The epitome of circularity and reuse

The epitome of circularity and reuse

Town Hall of the Municipality of Hengelo

The historic town hall of Hengelo has been completely restored and expanded with a newly built extension. The result: a beautiful and accessible ‘Home of the City’ where citizens, administrators and civil servants meet one another. One of the main objectives of the Municipality of Hengelo is sustainability, which is why circularity and the reuse of materials was a priority for both the old and the new building. The municipality approached Gispen for an interior design which is based on circular principles. We worked closely together with EGM Architects in order to realise this request.

Sustainability comes first

From the early stages of the project, sustainability played a major role in creating the designs and selecting the materials for both the listed building and the newly constructed extension. On the outside, the two buildings are very different, but on the inside they seamlessly merge into one. Mark Vrugteveen, Municipal Facilities project supervisor: “This is why we don’t really speak of the town hall (old building) and the municipal office (new building), we simply call it the town hall; it is one entity.” The restoration of the listed building was a joint effort between HVE architects and BERNS architecture. Many of the rooms look just as they did when the building was first completed in 1963, with the main hall as its bustling centrepiece. EGM architects designed the new extension and was primarily responsible; EGM Interiors produced the interior design for both the new and the old building.

 

Gispen supplied all the separate furniture pieces. Mark Vrugteveen: “We published a circular invitation to tender for the furnishing. Our request in short: help us to avoid buying furniture. In the past, no one really ever thought about reusing items. What was old was simply replaced. We abandoned this idea altogether. When working on the interior, we reused a great many materials and furniture items. When we do buy new furniture, we buy circular products. What we were also looking for a in partner was someone that could maintain and manage all the furniture for us as well as someone you can build a strong business relationship with. Gispen presented the best circular offer and ticked all these boxes.”

The client’s thoughts

Gispen has followed circular principles for quite some time. They are advanced in their circular developments within the office design sector. I was impressed when I saw the circular process from up close and, frankly, learned a lot from the experience. It really comes down to the details: from clever supply routes and carefully considered deliveries to how packing materials are handled. An extensive network of chain partners, efficient implementation and good communication between all parties have made this a very pleasant partnership.

Mark Vrugteveen Hengelo Municipal Facilities project supervisor

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Connecting the old with the new

The listed building accommodates council groups, features a Wedding Room, Council Chamber, Citizens' Hall, representative workspaces for members of the Municipal Executive and offices with plenty of daylight. A skylight on the fourth floor was restored to its former glory for this very purpose. The newly built extension has seven split-level floors around a spacious atrium, with room for 700 employees. Visitors entering the building through the main entrance on the ground floor will walk into a spacious public square. On the first floor, there is direct access to a ten-metre-wide footbridge that connects the old with the new. John Mol, senior architect at EGM: “Our main goal was to retain the historic structure and to make it the centrepiece of the building. The new extension had to merge seamlessly with the architectural style of the old building which Berghoef designed at the time. Other starting points were to make this a CO2-neutral building and to follow the concept of cradle-to-cradle, in which materials can be reused in the future. We included all these principles in the architectural and structural design.”

Co-creation

Several workshops took place in preparation of the interior design. Jeroen de Bruijn, interior architect at EGM: "Together with employees of the municipality, we made an analysis of how people work in Hengelo. From logistics and work processes to aesthetic wishes. We really tried to look at things from a user’s perspective, so that an authentic design could be produced.” Here, too, circularity was a key principle. The custom furniture elements –  reception desks, pantries and display cabinets – were designed with special wood joints from Hengelo that make everything easy to disassemble and reassemble. In addition, 400 m² of laminated sheet material from the original building was reused in building new cabinets and movable dividers. These were then lined with PET felt and, as a fun detail, stamped with the contours of the Hengelo neighbourhoods.

Forerunner: 700 refurbished chairs

Jeroen Ideler, senior account manager at Gispen: “When we were still in the preliminary phase, we managed to already complete a number of circular solutions for the interior. The municipality purchased nearly 700 stackable, refurbished Casala chairs from us. These chairs used to accommodate visitors of the Grote Kerk (main church) in Naarden for many years. Today, they have been given new purpose at the renovated town hall.” Mark: “We use these chairs mainly for large events at the main hall; in a theatre setting, for example. But they are also perfectly suited for other spaces and smaller settings.”

Quality Scan and furniture management system

Robbert de Jonge, circular project supervisor at Gispen: "Based on the Quality Scan, we checked all the existing furniture for reusability options. Furniture that was eligible for reuse was labelled and documented in a furniture management system, together with any furniture items we supplied. This  way, the municipality has a complete overview of which products are located where, when they were delivered, what type of warranty they are covered by, et cetera. Considering the scope of the project, this is certainly not a luxury! Mark: “Every piece of furniture we purchase, comes with preventative maintenance. Whenever a furniture piece requires maintenance, we simply send a message via the system and Gispen quickly solves it for us.”

Reuse: from coat hangers to conference chairs

The historic furniture designed by Berghoef has been completely refurbished, reupholstered when necessary and given a new place in the listed building. Gispen cut 540 coat hangers out of old tabletops. Old conference chairs from 1963 are once again made future-proof due to new upholstery. We reupholstered 200 conference chairs and occasional chairs that were still in a usable condition. These chairs were also worked on by people who are at a distance from the labour market. By doing so, the municipality complies with the so-called SROI obligation (social return on investment). In addition, Gispen supplied twenty Sett CE sofas. Robbert: “This is a sofa made of no less than 95% recycled materials. The frame of the sofa is actually 3D-printed with a material made from plastic waste. The foam in the seat and back, the polyester lining and the upholstery are also fully recyclable.”

The historic furniture designed by Berghoef has been completely refurbished, reupholstered when necessary and given a new place in the listed building. Gispen cut 540 coat hangers out of old tabletops. Old conference chairs from 1963 are once again made future-proof due to new upholstery. We reupholstered 200 conference chairs and occasional chairs that were still in a usable condition. These chairs were also worked on by people who are at a distance from the labour market. By doing so, the municipality complies with the so-called SROI obligation (social return on investment). In addition, Gispen supplied twenty Sett CE sofas. Robbert: “This is a sofa made of no less than 95% recycled materials. The frame of the sofa is actually 3D-printed with a material made from plastic waste. The foam in the seat and back, the polyester lining and the upholstery are also fully recyclable.”

New circular furniture

Jeroen Ideler: "EGM paid a visit to the Gispen Inspiration Centre in Culemborg, where together we selected the additional furniture pieces. New, circularly designed and manufactured products, and mostly of our own brand.” These include CIMO desks (circular and modular) and Gispen Zinn office chairs. Nomi chairs with recycled plastic shells and removable covers made of circular fabric can be found throughout the building. The conference rooms are furnished with Gispen TEAM tables in various sizes with accompanying Triennial chairs. Jeroen: “We also launched a pilot project with two Silence Calls (telephone booths), which allow employees to make calls quietly inside an open space. If the pilot is successful, the municipality will possibly order more.” Gispen also provided a cable management service: all CIMO workstations were installed and made ready for use, with all cords and cables neatly and safely tucked away.

A word from the architect

The new interior was designed in co-creation with employees of the municipality. A more open work environment was the result. At first, some were a bit hesitant about the open-plan office space, but that was no longer the case when they realised what a pleasant work environment had been created. Together with Gispen, we finetuned all the furniture and answered questions such as: what shall we reuse? Which new, circular products shall we add? Gispen was a great help in both the way they approached this and in conducting their first inventory.

John Mol, senior architect and Jeroen de Bruijn, interior architect EGM architects

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Are you satisfied with the result?

Mark: “The new town hall was put into use in February 2020. The roll-out was conducted in logical steps: everyone had to get used to the new environment and had to find their way. This process, however, was over before we knew it! Our employees are happy with their new workspace and furniture – both in functional terms and in appearance. In short, we are very satisfied with the first phase.” The pilot with the telephone booths is still ongoing. Mark: “We can't make any definitive statements about this because of the Corona virus; we have not yet seen a representative number of users in the building. Gispen did give some thought to the method of testing: users can share their opinion using a touch screen inside the telephone booths. It is also in these ways that Gispen proves to be a true partner.”



Photography:

> Studio JLF and the Municipality of Hengelo

> EGM architects, HVE architects and Berns architecture: photos by Bart van Hoek

Products featured in this project

Meer lezen over circulariteit en hergebruik

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