Surplus materials yield a company building with a ‘museum-worthy’ facade

It’s a real eye-catcher, the company building of Frankenhuis at the XL Business Park in Almelo. “When customers come by for the first time, we always say: first drive past those buildings that all look the same, that *different* building is ours,” laughs Bertram Wevers, general manager of the textile recycling giant.
The building has been named ‘T-Port Circular 21’. The term ‘circular’ refers not only to Frankenhuis’s activities but also to the partly ‘circular’ exterior. Profiles made of surplus material in various colors give the building its unique appearance, thanks to a forward-thinking project developer, an architect who dislikes grey box buildings, and SAB preferring to process surplus material sustainably.

Frankenhuis is the largest textile recycling company in the Netherlands. The company processes old textiles into fibers, giving the material a second life. Since moving in May 2023, the production capacity has doubled: from 10,000 tons per year to 20,000. “We initially looked for a building in the vicinity of our location in Haaksbergen. But because there were no suitable buildings to be found, we started considering other options.” Such as renting a new building, in collaboration with Heylen Warehouses, which develops logistic and semi-industrial real estate in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Spain. Eventually, a second-life building was created, offering 12,000 square meters of production space and 720 meters of office space.

‘Functionally sustainable’

‘Second-life buildings’ is the trademark of Heylen Warehouses. It’s a creative interpretation that the company gives to sustainability, says business development manager Jordy Grundel. “You have not only energetically sustainable, but also functionally sustainable. For example, Frankenhuis needed a free height of 6 meters. However, the free height here is 12.20 meters. A height suitable for both production and logistic activities. Frankenhuis doesn’t need that height, but if the company were to leave in 25 years, we could rent out the building more easily.”

Colorful facade

Especially because Heylen Warehouses remains the owner, the projects don’t look like the notorious ‘box buildings’ on many business parks. Although the development of T-Port Circular 21 is certainly in a league of its own. The colorful facade wouldn’t be out of place on a museum building. Not coincidentally, Heylen Warehouses works with an architectural firm, wilma wastiau architects in Belgium.

Making the facade tell a story

Remarkably, few firms are keen on designing a company building. “No, it’s not architecture as a grand art,” says architect Marie Wastiau. “But it is architecture that we very much need in the Netherlands and Belgium. We don’t believe industrial architecture should be an ugly duckling.” It was also Marie Wastiau who came up with the concept for the facade. “When designing a building, you look for a point of engagement. Visiting Frankenhuis, we saw bales of recycled textile in different colors. That’s how we got the idea to use those colored bales in the facade, so the facade tells a story.”

Using surplus material

Working with supplier SAB is something wilma wastiau has been doing for a long time. (“If we want to design something out of the box, they’re keen to think along.”) In the spirit of the future user, the plan was devised to use surplus material for the exterior facade. Manager Product Services at SAB-profiel, René Timmerman: “It’s common for us to purchase steel with a special color or coating for a project. That’s not done by 100 square meters at a time, but by 2,000 to 3,000 square meters. There’s always excess. We try to hold onto surplus material as long as possible to sell it, and if not, it goes to the market as second choice.” Thus, SAB supplied 5,000 square meters of the trapezoidal profile SAB 35/1035 for this project; eleven different colors (mostly metallics and elements) in Colorcoat Prisma, which might otherwise have not found a destination.

Everyone is happy with the (end) result

Bertram Wevers: “The building has already become a landmark.” Marie Wastiau: “There’s so much possible, as long as you’re open to it.” Jordy Grundel: “Great that we could make a connection with the activity in the building.” And René Timmerman: “We also find sustainability very important, melting down good surplus material instead of using it is the last thing you want.”

Project data:
Client: Frankenhuis / Heylen Warehouses
Architect: wilma wastiau architects
SAB Products:
SAB 35/1035 in Colorcoat Prisma®, 11 colours e.g. Ariana, Ephyra, Kronos, Seren Copper, Seren Gold

Photos: Object&Co