In the Koplopers series, NU.nl explores sustainable projects that provide a glimpse into the future of energy, heat, and (agri) construction. This week, we delve into the transformation of a national monument in Amsterdam into a green and gasless building. The iconic brick building known as ‘De Krakeling’ has been a staple in the city’s center since 1887. Over the years, it served various purposes such as a gymnasium, club house, and youth theater. After undergoing a three-year renovation led by Kodde Architects and contractor GF Deko, the building is now being repurposed as an office space. While preserving its iconic charm, the renovation aimed to make the building an innovator in sustainability without compromising its heritage. In this article, we explore the challenges faced in renovating a 136-year-old monument and how the architects successfully implemented sustainable energy sources and ventilation systems, eliminating the need for gas. Join us as we take a closer look at ‘De Krakeling’ and its journey towards a green and gasless future.
In the Koplopers series, NU.nl will visit sustainable projects this summer that give us a glimpse into the future of energy, heat and (agri) construction. This week: how a national monument in Amsterdam became green and gasless.
Het is een icoon in de hoofdstad: het bakstenen pand ‘De Krakeling’ kleurt sinds 1887 het centrum, op een steenworp afstand van het Leidseplein. Het monumentale pand diende de afgelopen decennia als jeugdtheater en daarvoor was het een gymzaal en clubhuis voor verschillende turnverenigingen.
Jeugdtheater De Krakeling verhuisde in 2020 omdat het pand toe was aan een nieuwe fundering, maar de naam ‘De Krakeling’ bleef hangen in de volksmond. De eigenaar besloot om daarna meteen te renoveren, samen met Kodde Architecten en aannemer GF Deko. Na sport, theater en leegstand krijgt de zaal nu een kantoorfunctie.
Zo’n iconisch monument restaureren is een eer voor het Amsterdamse bureau. “Mijn kinderen én ikzelf hebben hier nog op het toneel gestaan”, zegt Alexander van Rath, een van de architecten. Samen met Nicole Sieben en Hans Kodde werkte hij drie jaar lang aan het project. Het gebouw moest zijn iconische uitstraling behouden en tegelijkertijd voorloper worden op gebied van duurzaamheid.
Bij een 136 jaar oud monument is dat nogal een uitdaging, die de architecten maar al te graag aangingen. En dat zónder te isoleren of het enkele glas te vervangen.
Workplace and ventilation system in one
Where the uninsulated nineteenth-century gymnasium was always heated with gas, it switched to sustainable energy sources after a three-year renovation. NU.nl is allowed to take a look when the final preparations are made before the building is put into use.
From the outside, the building gives almost exactly the same appearance as before; there is also enough to recognize inside. Original details, such as the green veranda, the dragon heads and the metal bars on the ceiling, have been preserved. Just like the gallery that runs through the entire property. On the walls you can read (for some) inspiring texts in old-fashioned writing, including “Saying is positive but doing is better”. Those sayings come from the time when sports were fanatical.
Due to the refoundation, the original floor had to be removed and it was completely open. The architects were given free reign to drill eight soil wells 175 meters deep, connected to three heat pumps. These sources can heat the entire building in the winter and cool it in the summer. The gas boiler is therefore a thing of the past here.
The grandstands and stage in the theater hall have also disappeared and made way for a huge, free-standing construction of wood and steel with workplaces in it. But it also has another function. “Think of it as a very large radiator,” says architect Hans Kodde.
The steel construction with underfloor heating heats the entire space. Together with a heat recovery system incorporated in the roof, the structure also provides ventilation for the building. “You don’t want to have to generate endless energy for this,” says Kodde. It saves about 15 percent in heating.
The tubes that transport air have been incorporated into the construction in such a way that they have become part of the design. In this way, the architects could hide the large air ducts, which are often seen in buildings with a public function. Van Rath: “We didn’t want a parade of air tubes on a monumental ceiling.”
There are also 64 solar panels on the south of the roof. As a result, the monumental building of 900 m2 consumes the same amount of electricity as 3 households in a year, instead of about 25. “We’re really proud of that.”
Double glass? Not possible in such a historic building
It was an investment of millions, but it was still a “must” for the owner and the architects from the start that the building became completely sustainable. At the same time, the monument had to remain as authentic as possible and fit within the rules for monuments of the municipality.
Replacing the original windows (single glazing) or insulating the facade was therefore already out of the question. While these are normally the first steps when a building is made more sustainable. It required creative thinking from the architects, who have already done similar projects in the capital. These include a historic dance theater on Kloveniersburgwal and the former district office in Westerpark.
You cannot insulate a monument as a new building.
Yet not every historic building is suitable for going completely off the gas, according to the architects. Narrow buildings with many spaces or with small roofs, for example, where there is no possibility for new foundations. “Isolating a monument is difficult, of course you can’t approach it in the same way as new construction,” says Kodde. Van Rath: “It’s always a learning action.”
They notice that most renovation projects are still hybrid at the moment: “You usually see a heat pump next to the gas boiler.” Nevertheless, the designers see a bright future ahead of them. “Gasless restoration will soon be the standard”, says Kodde. “Until then, we should at least try. Because it really is possible.”
Over deze serie
Dit is deel 3 in een zomerserie over innovatieve projecten die Nederland duurzamer maken.
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