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The Zuidkas Project

architecture, the Zuidkas Project

The Dutch Government Building Department (Rijksgebouwendienst) aspires to sustainability of its own buildings.

Against this background Architectenbureau Paul de Ruiter has been invited by this Department to participate into a study assignment, with the aim to make a singularly high qualified building regarding environmental objectives.

The result of the study is the design for The Zuidkas: a building as an energy source.

Project description:

‘The Zuidkas, an experimental project commissioned by the Government Building Agency, challenges architects with an imaginary office building of over 11,000 square meters in Amsterdam that demands innovative solutions. The main objective of the Zuidkas project is to achieve the highest possible score with regard to the fulfillment of environmental objectives.

Architect Paul de Ruiter and his team focused on nine aspects of sustainability, ranging from carbon reduction to energy savings. With these elements in mind, de Ruiter created a kind of miniature city that works as one building.

By creating one entity filled with different programmatic components, de Ruiter’s intent was to provide both an attractive, comfortable and healthy environment for people to live and work in, as well as a highly environmentally friendly atmosphere. The compact model of activities includes homes, offices, a school, parking facilities, retail stores, restaurants, a park and a biogas electrical plant.

de Ruiter’s model creates an opportunity to develop a more balanced response to the demand for energy. Depending on the program, the demand for energy will be different throughout the course of the day. For instance, in residential units, the energy demand spikes in the mornings and evenings while, in the case of offices, the energy demand reaches its highest point at the middle of the day. By placing these two programmatic components in the same building, energy can cycle from where it is needed presently to where it will be needed later. It is a logical and yet innovative approach to addressing an energy solution.

The placement of the programmatic elements is highly dependent on orientation. The office areas face the north because the heat of the sun during the summer months has less of an impact on the building. Due to the extremely high production of internal heat generated by computers, lighting and appliances, the north orientation will provide a fairly substantial natural cooling effect and require drastically less energy to cool the office spaces. Likewise the residential areas face the south because a home’s production of internal heat is much lower. The south orientation allows the sunlight to warm the interiors in the winter which makes a major contribution to the supply of heat.

The building is covered by a glass shell that creates a variety of climate buffer zones that naturally temper the effect of the outside climate. The heat surplus in the summer and the cold surplus in the winter will be stored in a geothermal storage system below the surface. This stored energy will be used when needed to heat or cool the building.

The building will also collect black water (toilet water) that will be converted into bigoas after it is led through the co-fermentation plant. This gas will serve as sustainable fuel for the power installation and the heat that is released in this process will be used to heat tap water. The CHP power installation will also produce high-quality energy in the form of electricity. The rainwater collected on the roof, approximately 4,130 m³ per year, is more than sufficient to supply the greenhouses and flush the toilets. The remainder of the collected water can be used for the washers and various household activities.

Paul de Ruiter’s approach to the Zuidkas is highly reasoned and although the building is driven by sustainable aspects, those aspects work to create an architectural statement.’

Published with permission of ArchiCentral.

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