Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

Architectural photographer Gerard van Beek shares his photographs of a heating plant in the Netherlands by Dutch architects Bonnema.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

Located to the south of Leeuwarden, the plant was commissioned by Essent Energy and designed to be replicated and adapted to suit each new site.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

Overlapping shells can be made of different materials according to the requirements of each new plant and the location's demands.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

For this first one the roof plates climb towards the centre and are clad in orange ceramic tiles in sympathy with the barn-like typology of the area.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

All photographs are copyright Gerard van Beek.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

Here's some  more information from Bonnema:


Essent Energy heating plant

In 2006, Essent Energy asked Bonnema architects to design a standardized, but modulated heating plant.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

The aim was both to increase quality in the buildings of Essent Energy, similar to the quality of earlier transformer stations, and the other not each time having to develop something completely new.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

Depending on the needs in size of the plant, making it larger or smaller shouldn’t violate the identity of the building.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

Also, Essent Energy asked to modify this so that both placement in an industrial environment, but also in a more sensitive urban or built environment was feasible.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

The task was developed using references as "armadillo" as articulation and "armor" as a coating around a heat source or heat buffer.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

In several steps Bonnema architects developed the typology of construction that could accentuate the skin, depending on the urban situation, by adjusting the materialisation.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

Thus a possible housing in coated steel, but also in patinated copper and possibly solar panels is possible.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

The heating plant for the location south of Leeuwarden, which was the first concrete follow-up , has become a location-specific design with the maintenance of the principles chosen.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

From the urban planning point of view, the plant is situated on the edge of a new extension of Leeuwarden.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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The characteristics of the Frisian terp villages should lead to a more rustic architecture.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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Two villages, Jabikswoude and Techum, are centrally located in a still further to be developed more residential area, where the green character gets much attention.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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Feature of many frisian villages are alongside small residential buildings, farmhouses and barns fitted in the village structure appropriately.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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In both Techum and Jabikswoude, the main architectural requirement for specific functions such as schools and shopping centers, but also for the heating plant, was the architectural typology of the barn, without lapsing into 'copy' architecture.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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The already developed standard heating plant, was for this situation transformed into a structure with an articulation which starts low at the ends and climbs higher towards the center.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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The roof surfaces are conceived as a part of barn roofs and presented with flat orange ceramic tiles.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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The truss construction, that provides a clear span of the interior space, is behind a glass- or grid- filled façade, thus in the evening creating a visible node with the interior light.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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The triangular area has led to an adjustment in the standard plan: within the dark brick masonry plinth, which refers to the brick farmhouse plinths, amenities such as refrigeration units, distribution boxes and bundled stacks are included. Beside the (reserve) gas-fired heating units, biogas heating units are established, which will be powered from a fermentation plant in the nearby farm Nij Bosma Zathe in Boksum.

Essent Energy heating plant by Bonnema

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The biogas heating units will be the primary heating generators. The heat buffers of 150 m3 each, are deliberately drawn into the main room for a little less industrial look and feel, and to approach the typology of the barn as much as possible.

Project Architect: Jan van der Leij
Design team: Jacob Bosma, Doeke van Duinen, Wim de Vries


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  • edward

    Handsome design especially for an industrial facility. High marks to the company for responsible policy.

  • ryan

    Nice, but very reminiscent of the Koren Presbyterian Church by Greg Lynn, Doug Garofalo, and Michael McInturf.

  • ste

    a nice idea of “how to bring light in a room” as shown long ago… greg lynns presbyterian church showed a similiar understanding of natural light… but here the complex shells are only form… the tangential light has no surfaces on the inside… one cant perceive the quality of light without walls where the light can materialize… its really shallow design imho, sorry

  • A. Corner

    I like this armadillo-shaped building.
    It’s very interesting to see how suggestive can become a simple geometry.