Veilige Veste
by KAW


Victims of human trafficking can find refuge behind the faceted walls of this sheltered housing block in the Netherlands by Dutch firm KAW (+ slideshow).

Veilige Veste by KAW

Named Veilige Veste, meaning 'safe fortress', the three-storey building in Leeuwarden, Friesland, provides a home for 48 girls that have suffered as victims of prostitution or abuse.

Veilige Veste by KAW

The building was first constructed as a police station in the 1970s and the new diagonally folded facade panels act to both screen the original structure and provide room for additional insulation.

Veilige Veste by KAW

Beatrice Montesano of KAW compares the faceted white squares to diamonds. Unlike refuges "tucked away in anonymous back alleys," she says that the facade of the Veilige Veste has "a subtle gleam that interacts with its environment."

Veilige Veste by KAW

Beneath the white squares, wooden panels and large windows regularly alternate along the ground floor elevations.

Veilige Veste by KAW

Offices, meeting rooms and treatment rooms occupy this ground floor, while bedrooms and living rooms for residents are split into six separate groups on the first and second storeys.

Veilige Veste by KAW

Rooms on the second floor surround a roof terrace, which offers a protected outdoor space that the girls can use without having to leave the building.

Veilige Veste by KAW

“A patio in Italy has a very important function," said Montesano. "That is where the family comes together, where you relax, where you find tranquillity in a busy city. The atmosphere in the patio is always completely different from outside the building; here you sense a much more warm and intimate atmosphere.”

Veilige Veste by KAW

Other refuges we've featured on Dezeen include a centre for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in London and a centre for blinded sailors, soldiers and airmen in Scotland.

Veilige Veste by KAW

Photography is by Gerard Van Beek.

Here are a few words from the architects about the building's energy consumption:

Massive Energy Reduction through Passive House

What is revolutionary about the ‘Veilige Veste’, is that this is the first large office block in the Netherlands to be renovated according to the Passive House standard. ‘Passive House’ is a standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing its ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling. In this case, the fact that the former police stations’ substructure was placed outside the building, meant an enormous energy abuser to be dealt with.

Veilige Veste by KAW

The substructure created a thermal bridge that works exactly like a tunnel sucking in the cold outside air. By wrapping the building with the diamond-cut square panels, the substructure is now within the building and the whole building is covered by a thick layer of insulation. At some points, the façade is over 3 feet thicker now. Thanks to optimal insulation, draft proofing and the use of very little, highly energy-efficient equipment, the ‘Veilige Veste’ consumes exceptionally little power.

  • toomuchcoffeeman

    Almost no pictures of the interior. If it’s a re-used 70’s police station I doubt there will be any tranquility and intimacy found there. A bit of red paint won’t be able to change it that much.

  • erasmus-van

    Interesting to read that the Dutch finally discovered the passive house “standard”. “Passive house” was the standard for energy consumption reduction in the European Alpine countries in the last decade, in the meanwhile replaced by (real passive) zero-energy consumption buildings. The passive houses were good, but there is better now…

  • Hisham

    What material is this on the facade?

  • Hello Hisham, the facade is made of composite elements, especially molded by the Dutch firm Polux for this building.

  • zino

    Creative and not overdone solution to a tricky retrofit. I’m thumbs up on this building. It doesn’t LOOK like a retrofit, for example… bravo.