Commissioned by the Dutch HealthTec Academy (practical training for medical technical personnel) and the SVGB Kennisen training centre, a plan was drawn up to redevelop an empty, badly neglected former commercial property built in 1969 in the Overvecht business park in Utrecht into an educational building and knowledge centre, the DHTA. The arrival of both organizations in Overvecht business park heralds the spatial economic vision of Utrecht City Council and the Employers' Association Overvecht: "Investing in a durable future for Overvecht Business Park". The project is not only an important boost for the revitalization of the entire area, it also adds the necessary programmatic diversity that initiates cross-fertilization with the current and future businesses in this area. As a result, it is a unique example of an important task in the future, in our opinion: discovering new possibilities in existing buildings and surroundings, without having to carry out really significant modifications. So no rigorous bulldozers or demolition balls. Instead, redefinition. With minimal resources and maximum result.
The former commercial property built in 1969 has been completely renovated in terms of structure and technical installations, to fulfil the requirements currently applied to buildings by educational authorities. Durability was of overriding importance in the decision to reuse an existing building. Important underlying principles in this design are the large, free-plan floor areas, a clear supporting structure/steel skeleton, the large degree of 'overmeasure' in the storey height and the use of mezzanine floors, the maximum possible reuse of existing walls and materials and the inclusion and upgrade of the in-between alleyway and the interior by introducing a patio/inner garden.
With minimal resources and maximum result. Interventions have been made at several strategic places in the existing shell. By introducing a number of roof lights and vides, a fine learning and working environment is created throughout the building and attractive, communicative spaces come into being.
The heart of the building is formed by a spacious vide with a large multi-functional staircase and a few large roof lights, allowing daylight to reach the ground floor. There is space here for holding meetings, relaxing and meeting people in a roomy restaurant. The first floor houses the training areas and the knowledge centre with offices. Their physical proximity will generate synergistic advantages, which is extremely important for the quality of the service and education.
This project was approached using a Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy. Instead of demolishing and recycling the various building components, as many materials as possible were reused in this project, sometimes in their existing position. This not only saves the costs of demolition, but also the purchase of new material. The steel construction and concrete floors have remained, and have been adapted where necessary. But door frames have also been reused. As they no longer comply with the building regulations in force with respect to height, a glass plate has been set into the doors, allowing light and a view from the corridor into the classrooms.
The entire external façade has been replaced with a low-maintenance well-insulated façade. By adding a mezzanine floor, an efficient floor plan has been created and a high utilization rate is made possible. Air quality is an important area of consideration when designing a school. In order not to waste any energy for this purpose, every classroom has CO2-driven ventilation.