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Leon Abraas & Broekbakema

43 Metre of Synthetic Roofing: Gatehouse, DSM Chemelot Research Campus

Broekbakema en tant que Architectes.

Broekbakema has landed a nomination for the BNA Building of the Year for the fourth time. The gatehouse, Building 140, of the DSM Chemelot Research Campus in Geleen has been nominated for BNA Building of the Year.

In 2006, Broekbakema was awarded the contract for developing a masterplan for the DSM Chemelot Research Campus in Geleen. Because of a change in philosophy toward opening up the Research Campus originally intended for DSM only -to outside companies, the site was designed as an ‘open campus’. Consistent with the open nature of the campus, the entrance area, instead of being an austere boundary, was given a more public character. A 43-metre long, shiny white synthetic canopy, which marks the change from public to private, proudly represents the new entrance to the open campus.

The entrance area was developed in collaboration with Copijn garden and landscape architects. Because the design of the area around the entrance is entirely directed at experiencing an open campus, the transition from public to private has as far as possible been solved using landscaping elements. It was decided to place the emphasis on the canopy in order to define the access to the campus as clearly as possible. The gigantic canopy rests on 10 columns and serves as a covering for the guard posts and the vehicle barriers, and as a roof for the gatehouse. The columns have been kept as slender as possible and the span as large as possible to give the canopy the appearance of a floating wing. The roof is constructed from composite synthetic shell elements that are entirely self-supporting. The columns are made of corten rusted steel, which is also used as a material in the landscaped design of the entrance area. This ensures that the columns become an integral part of the landscape and are visually separated from the roof. By also constructing the reception area in the form of a minimalist glass box, in which the space is only expressed by its interior, the image of a floating wing is enhanced even further.

In addition to designing the entrance area and the gatehouse, the project also provided for a representative work of art. Here the choice fell on Driessen + van Deijne, a studio for textile and spatial design. They positioned their work of art on the approximately 70-metre long sheetpile wall that continues into the interior of the gatehouse. The work of art is made of corten rusted steel into which an image of Dyneema (the strongest fibre in the world, developed by DSM) has been punched. The use of colours and the pattern that resembles layers of the earth also serve as a reminder of the origins of DSM and the site, namely coal mining.

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