Daring, adventurous and, above all, at the cutting edge of innovation. This is a fitting description for the design processes surrounding the realisation of the TNT Centre in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. Thanks to the ambitious sustainability requirements that had been set for the building, designing the new TNT head office was one big adventure. The project is synonymous with ‘The New Way of Designing’. TNT’s motto is connectivity and this theme formed the guiding principle for this ambitious project: i.e. the human user is key. This translated into an open and transparent building that comprises a U-formed six-floor main volume around an atrium. This atrium is the heart of the building and serves as a single large meeting area.
The TNT Centre is a transparent and inspiring building. The orientation and layout of the building have been determined by the site, the local urbanistic structure and the surrounding landscape. The building is anchored in its location: it ‘knows where it stands’ and as such is a connective structure. Connectivity in an urbanistic, logistics and social sense is the core concept of sustainability. After all, a building’s sustainability is not only determined by the choice of material, energy-efficient applications, the limiting of CO2 emissions and flexibility in its future utilisation. Sustainable also – and primarily – means: neither damaging one’s immediate surroundings nor the local natural environment and community. A building can inflict damage when it denies its connection with its surroundings. At the same time, a connective building influences social interaction: it brings people together and promotes professional and social contacts. In the TNT Centre this function has been given concrete form in the various locations the building offers its users to meet one another.
A blueprint for sustainable architecture
Thanks to its orientation within the volume, the design of the atrium allows ample daylight to penetrate the building. Furthermore, the atrium offers TNT employees a splendid view of their natural surroundings. The atrium and the entrance are clearly connected to one another, with the stepped placed terraces encouraging users to access the floors on foot and meet each other on the linking floors (reducing the use of the lifts).
All the green electricity in the TNT Centre is supplied by the ‘Green Machine’. Periodic power surpluses are directed to the main network, while periodic shortages are met by taking (green) electricity from the network. The heat released in this process is used to heat the buildings in the immediate vicinity of the TNT Centre. The building’s in-house power supply ensures that the amount of energy required is kept to a minimum. The energy that is needed is generated sustainably by the building itself. This is done by means of heat and cold storage in aquifers in the soil. The bio-cogeneration plant required for this process runs on organic residual waste, among other things. The geothermal heat storage process supplies the heat and cold required for the building’s climate control system. The heat stored is used to heat the complex in winter and the cold to cool it in summer.
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