Project in Detail
Culture Cluster Heerlerheide
Wauben Architects, Sittard-Geleen, Netherlands
To revitalise the old and deteriorated coalminers-settlement Heerlerheide, the entire centre of this quarter of Heerlen (Netherlands) is redeveloped by constructing a community centre, elementary school, care-facility, 2 supermarkets, retail, fitness-centre and over 500 dwellings.
The Cultural Cluster (21.000m2) is situated in the heart of Heerlerheide, on the pivotal crossing of main street, central square and park.
The project contains two main structures: a triangular brick building (public parking, supermarket, retail and dwellings) and a glass cooling tower, in which is the actual community centre is located (theatre, conference centre, cafe and library).
An intrinsic network of underground passages and a skybridge connects to the surrounding buildings.
The transparent cooling tower is the most prominent part of the project and symbolises the transformation of the community from introvert and dark to extravert and transparent.
The strong dynamics of the double-curved façade generate maximal contrast to the surrounding buildings.
All secondary facilities, elevator and stairs are located in a granite structure; the entire area behind the transparent façade can thus be used as public cultural platforms with optimal visual relations to the outside street and square. The different levels are completely free from obstacles, providing maximal flexibility and adjustability.
The large atrium contains large free-hanging stairs, which connect different levels and activities. This 20m atrium floods all spaces in natural light, even 8m below ground level, which reduces the demand for electric energy significantly.
The glass façade is constructed by a principle developed in the1920’s by a local engineer Van Iterson, to erect cooling towers for the coal mines; the façade is a mathematical shape called hyperbolid paraboloid, using only straight lines to generate a double-curved surface.
This unique building could thus be constructed utilising conventional glass and steel elements, within a tight budget. An elaborate 2d- and 3d-engineering by the architect made it possible to prefabricate the entire façade and construct it without any difficulties.
Energy and durability
In this area the use of geothermal energy of water inside old coalmines is pioneered (‘Pilot Minewaterproject’). Water of different depths (800m. and 250m.) is extracted, used to heat and cool the new developments in Heerlerheide and pumped back to regenerate the mine-reservoir. The mines, excavated by the inhabitants over 40 ago for energy-supply by coal, are now used again to provide durable energy for the homes of the same people and their children. The energy plant is actually located inside the glass cooling tower.
The Cultural Cluster is the first building in the world to utilise minewater. An innovative low-exergy installation concept further reduces energy demands (high-quality insulation, concrete-core-activation, air heat-exchange).
Next to the local durable energy-source, the building also generates energy itself.
The south-oriented double-curved shape creates a natural flow of air inside the atrium. In winter, spring and autumn this air is heated by sun and distributed to the energy plant. In summertime overheating is prevented by an external solar screen, which mechanically rotates along with the sun using advanced seasonal-, daytime- and temperature controls.
The combination of the 1200m3 atrium and rotating solar screen make this building the largest active solar collector known today and provides a continuously changing appearance (4-dimensional architecture).
The entire project was designed, engineered and supervised by a young architect, only 26 years old at the time of the design contest for this project.