Zilverparkkade, Lelystad

Office building, Lelystad NL, Project Team: René van Zuuk, Stefan Ringwald, Kersten Scheller, Client: Develop Havelte bv, Start of design: 2003, Completion: 2004-2005, Area: 1.867 m², Volume: 6.620 m³, Building costs: €1.750.000

The project derives its romantic name (Silver Park Quay) from its location, the office cluster on the Zilverparkaade in Lelystad. West 8 designed the urban plan for the area, in accordance with the prevailing trend towards densification of the city centres. With an idyllic nod to the 17th-century Dutch canal houses, the offices are lined up shoulder to shoulder on narrow plots. In the limited architectural space that the compact row offers, the facade is virtually the only element able to give the office a distinctive identity.

The facade pattern continues around the corners, enveloping the building, and providing it with a recognizable identity, distinct from the adjacent properties. The south and west elevations have a double layer facade with window cleaner's ledges in between. An advantageous feature of these narrow balconies is their function as a barrier to prevent the vertical spread of fire. As a result, storey-high panels of ordinary (non-heat resistant) glass can be applied. The ledges also function as large sun blinds. The branch pattern ensures that the view from the outside is veiled, but hardly obstructs the view of the surroundings for the users.

The concrete elements on the northern and eastern facade are solid. Here, the branch pattern is embossed on the panels and is highlighted by applying two layers of concrete. The rear facade boasts an alternative structure. Horizontal strips of textured concrete and windows, combined with a vertical slit, splitting the building asymmetrically. The incision makes the zoning visible and subtly affects the repetition of the solid concrete panels.

All four facade surfaces are either entirely or partially covered with prefabricated concrete elements that form the branch-like structure. This enlarged filigree form is the result of a study of infinite patterns. The work of Dutch graphic artist Maurits Escher has been a huge source of inspiration. Specific skills are required to devise a repetitive pattern that, applied in a limited number of different concrete elements, constitutes a seamless entity. The craftsmanship needed to avoid the repeating units seaming obvious has an analogy with designing rotation press patterns for textile and wallpaper.