The Werkspoor District in Utrecht houses an immense industrial warehouse with a length of 175 metres. Together with several other buildings, the factory is part of the old Werkspoor. Large-scale steel constructions were processed here for civil engineering. Most of the buildings have meanwhile been demolished, but together with the Werkspoorkathedraal, the building acts as a catalyst of the area and it is a symbol for circular area development.
In 2018 the Werkspoor District won the ABN AMRO Circular Economy Award. The Werkspoor Factory is not a monument, but a highly typical, large-scale example of industrial heritage. The client accepted the challenge to preserve the building and to activate it with a wide range of work-related functions. The Werkspoor Factory is part of an ensemble of existing buildings and the ‘Hof van Cartesius’, a circular breeding ground. It is a unique location for Utrecht where past and present are linked together in an inspiring fashion.
The Werkspoor Factory houses a range of businesses from creative independent entrepreneurs to the large beer brewery De Leckere. Together, the businesses form a community in the creative sector and the manufacturing industry. Hospitality is available, as well as event space to stimulate meetings of various businesses that focus on the learning process of manufacturing. Examples are the training centre of Baars & Bloemhoff and Parts On Demand, where innovation takes place in the area of 3D printing. These businesses are established on the ground floor and all have their own new industrial entrance. These areas have a double height and were provided with a mezzanine floor.
ses space to smaller and medium-sized creative businesses. At the head of the building a large multifunctional space was created for various purposes: parties, lectures, workshops and meetings with a fantastic view of the Amsterdam Rhine Canal. This space enables broad public use of the building and showcases the roughness of the Werkspoor past. The old crane track was preserved, and the smell of the past is still present.
There are various new façade openings in the existing façades for the benefit of the new functions. They open up the building and contribute to the lively synergy between indoors and outdoors. The most important objective is the activation of the area, the building and the people who work, think, learn and manufacture here together. Space was even found for a small museum that narrates the history of Werkspoor and Zuilen, the neighbouring working class district.
The idea was to create a new structure within the free industrial space of 175x25x15 metres where businesses of various scopes and with various activities can establish themselves. Without prejudicing the industrial character, views and the length effect. In order to achieve this high level of ambition, ample surface area was added locally whilst at other locations as much spaciousness as possible was preserved. From large entrance areas to small units, always alternating in terms of perception and view.
The whole forms a large inspiring journey of discovery for users and visitors. It is a factory of several businesses, spaciously and visually connected with each other. At the central entrance, the complete height of the warehouse can be seen, as well as two staircases that take you upstairs. The signature skylight and continuing steel window frames were restored and equipped with insulating glass. The idea is that with the interventions in the façades and the added new structure of open floors, it is possible to anticipate a changing demand in the future.