EVA Architects

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments 

EVA architecten

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

ARCHITECTS
Eva Architecten

LEAD ARCHITECTS
Maarten Terberg And Jasper Van Uitert

MANUFACTURERS
Amg Railing, Cladding, Derako, Hicon, Schüco Windows & Doors

INSTALLATION ADVISOR
Huygen Installatie Adviseurs

LANDSCAPE DESIGNER
Buro Beuk

AREA
5500 M²

YEAR
2023

LOCATION
Breda, The Netherlands

CATEGORY
Apartments

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

History. In the 1970s, the Koninklijke Coöperatieve Cosun U.A. (Suikerunie / the Dutch Sugar Union) is looking for a new head office in Breda. The location they eventually acquired is on the western edge of Breda. The residential areas in the immediate surroundings were not there yet.

De Suikerunie commissioned Wim Quist to design a suitable head office, which was completed around 1975. In the original design, the Suikerunie site was made accessible on the west side.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

The location, which had a green, park-like layout, was entered via an entrance gate with a garage and gatehouse on either side. The employees and visitors were escorted to the entrance located in the cutout on the southwest side of the building.

The diagonal positioning of the building in relation to the plot is a result of this route. The grounds, visual arts, and buildings formed a carefully designed ensemble.

The situation has remained virtually unchanged for more than twenty years. However, a residential area and a police station were built to the north and east of the plan respectively.

Around the turn of the century, plans were made for four extra office buildings, two of which were ultimately built.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

In 2011, Cosun / Suikerunie left their head office and the building has been empty ever since. The garage and caretaker's house were demolished, the visual arts have disappeared, the ground level has largely been used for low-quality parking and the Zuilenstraat that provided access to the park no longer exists.

The Cosun site will be revived in the coming years and transformed into a residential area. Parking will be solved underground and the residential buildings will be placed in a park again. Cosun 1 / Suikerunie is the first step in the transformation.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

The building. In addition to a cultural historical valuation of the building carried out by the municipality, we have collected documentation from various books, and the drawing archive of the municipality of Breda and we visited renowned architect Wim Quist (1930-2022) several times to discuss the building and our plans. We have been able to formulate clear principles and points of attention for the transformation.

The building is a clear cube that stands in the park with an angle twist. The facades are made of masonry with deep recesses and a uniform design that gives the building a subdued expressiveness. In contrast, the facade in the cut has a high-tech appearance in two layers.

A complete glass facade and movable slats in front of it that serve as sun protection. The preservation of the striking, solitary character and the expressive facades of the building were important principles. The rational facade image has been carefully worked out down to the smallest detail: apparent simplicity but very cleverly made.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

The striking contrast in material, color, design and appearance between the solid brick outer shell on the one hand and the airy construction of the 'lining' on the other: both with their pattern, layering, dynamics, and expression.

The structure of the facade, cores and two columns form the basis, the rest of the floors can be freely divided. The office layout with partition walls and suspended ceilings contributed little to the character of the building and could be removed.

Due to the shape that was not originally designed for residential construction and the heights of the floors (almost 4 meters), the building was suitable for spacious, special apartments. An important point is to solve the outdoor spaces in the building near the masonry facade so that the expressiveness and rhythm are not disturbed.

Transformation. We have created a new layout that is based on supporting functions around the core and living spaces on the facade as much as possible.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

This creates a great diversity of apartments, also because we wanted to activate the basement and the roof. We have 23 types out of 39 apartments ranging from 60-150 m2. The sharp angles allow special typologies and floor plans.

At the suggestion of Wim Quist, we proposed outdoor spaces near the masonry facade as winter gardens on the corners and in other places where they are needed. For the facade in the cut, we want the outdoor areas to also be the sun blinds that become an integral part of the new facade. We also want to integrate greenery here.

In the original urban development plan, Cosun 1 / Suikerunie was the end of a route. The facade in the cut was where the building opened up at the end of that route and where people were guided to the entrance. In the new situation, the design of the park is no longer a route, but part of an ensemble of buildings with multiple directions and routes. The west facade therefore turned out to be a better and clearer place to access the building. In this new situation, the facade opens into the still cut itself, but the functionality lies more in the privacy, and views of green and outdoor spaces.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

The entire building has a basement. The basement has partly been given a functional purpose with storage rooms and technical rooms, but it is also large enough to include part of the houses and thus create double-height houses with voids.

The roof has also been activated: you have a beautiful view here that was not used. We replaced the existing roof structures with a single, lower volume.

You can get here from five homes on the 4th floor, with an additional floor and an accessible roof garden. The structure is made of metal with a slatted facade. This is subordinate to the building but does refer to it in color and rhythm.

Facades. Although the facades in the masonry facade was fitted with triple glazing, which was unusual at the time it was built, there were no windows that could be opened and they were built in so that adjustment proved impossible. New, floor-to-ceiling window frames have replaced these facades in a four-part division.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

We have three types of facades in the plan: fixed glass, facades with opening parts, and folding facades for the winter gardens. The profile and appearance of the facades are such that they appear identical, regardless of which type they are. This way we get a facade image that remains calm and unambiguous, just like in the existing situation.

The facade in the cut was characterized by its layering, detailing and high-tech appearance that contrasted with the traditional brickwork. We wanted to maintain that contrast: a new open facade has been designed in the same rhythm as the existing one.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme

We used the construction that supports the existing slats to add a second layer in the form of perforated steel screens. The residents can allow these to grow, creating a pleasant green interior world that contrasts with the heavy masonry facade.

Sustainability. Lower requirements are imposed on the transformation of energy management than on new constructions. Through additional insulation, the use of smart installations, and heat-cold storage in the ground, we have managed to meet the new construction requirements.

Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
© Sebastian van Damme
Cosun 1/ Suikerunie Apartments
Floor Plan

But more importantly: being able to (re)use a building for as long as possible due to the functional freedom to rearrange it and because it has an unmistakable quality that means that no one tends to demolish it is, in our opinion, the most sustainable thing there is.

EVA Architects
T +31 30 740048
EVA Architects
Wilhelminapark 26, 3581 NE Utrecht, Netherlands