PostNL head office in Stationspostgebouw The Hague completed

The postal company PostNL has moved into the renovated Stationspostgebouw in The Hague. Designed by KCAP and Kraaijvanger Architects, the national monument has been renovated and converted from a mail sorting center into an office building. The biggest intervention is the creation of voids, creating a large atrium.

The Stationspostgebouw, which dates from 1939 and covers 30,000 square meters, is seen as a textbook example of functionalism. The building has a distinctive facade in light brick, with rounded shapes and glazed brick windows, behind which high but deep floors hide. It has always been a landmark for and in The Hague.

KCAP realized the architectural transformation of the building for project developers LIFE and SENS real estate, Kraaijvanger Architects was responsible for the interior design on behalf of PostNL. An important result is that daylight has been significantly increased by adjusting the facade and installing cavities.

Major structural changes are not possible
Due to its monumental status, it was not possible to make major architectural adaptations. A further challenge was to renovate the building in such a way that the monumental atmosphere was restored. In the restoration concept, emphasis has therefore been placed on the supporting main structure, where the existing beams and columns have been kept intact. It was also due to the fact that the Stationspostgebouw is one of the first examples in the world of the use of prefabricated concrete columns.

In addition, the Stationspostgebouw had to meet the highest requirements for sustainability. It has been redesigned according to the WELL and BREEAM guidelines and is the first national monument in the Netherlands to be certified with the highest attainable energy label A. Another glass cladding on the inside of the building provides almost invisible insulation; this allows the monumental facade to remain intact while the building still meets the requirements.

This intervention reduces energy consumption, acts as a measure against noise nuisance from road and train traffic and is supported by additional energy-saving measures, report KCAP and Kraaijvanger Architects. Released materials are reused as far as possible in accordance with the principles of the circular economy.

Traditionally, the glass brick windows in combination with skylights ensured that light entered the building. However, this was not sufficient for a modern office environment due to the depth of the floors. Therefore, KCAP installed voids to bring more daylight to the lower floors.

These voids are staggered, creating an interplay between single-height and double-height floors that are sometimes wide and sometimes narrow. The result is an atrium that opens up the building, allows people to ‘see and be seen’ and thus forms the pulsating heart of the new office.

According to the two offices, the grandeur of the machines that once dominated the room can also be felt here. Irma van Oort, partner at KCAP: “The atrium, surrounded by falling floors and crossed by bridges and stairs, can be read as a metaphor for the conveyor belts and sorting machines that used to transport mail directly from the station.”

The informal routes help to bring people together, but also to discover the space in different ways, thus promoting a pleasant, spontaneous atmosphere, according to KCAP and Kraaijvanger.

Flexible design
The ‘Community Centre’ is located on the ground floor with reception, common areas, café, meeting areas and workplaces. The floors above have a flexible layout, which makes it possible to offer a number of different workplace concepts and arrange them according to the wishes of different users. Efficient floor plans and innovative technical facilities also make the building adaptable for the future.

Kraaijvanger’s interior is geared to PostNL’s desire for a new way of working, where collaboration, flexible use and employee well-being are at the centre. “The monumental building has a special spatial design and atmosphere: the facade of glass bricks, the deep floor fields and the powerful construction elements. Together with KCAP’s daring intervention of cutting the concrete floors in the middle, these have been leaders in ‘mapping’ the different areas in the interior”, says Chantal Vos, associate partner at Kraaijvanger.

Typology of a house
A particular challenge was to retain as much daylight as possible and at the same time divide the very large floors into smaller, more intimate units. Therefore, the typology of a house has been projected onto the interior of PostNL.

“A house often has partially defined spaces and a range of room sizes that are connected in different ways, with different levels of privacy. The office offers inspiring places for a diversity of activities, for small and larger groups. The linking of informal and formal, open and closed areas adapt to the new spatiality of the building”, says the offices.

KCAP is also responsible for the larger urban development vision for HS Kwartier. The Stationspostgebouw is the first completed project within this plan.

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