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Blogs 4 oct 2023

Matrix ONE : Building on circularity

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema recently opened the sustainable innovation centre, Matrix ONE, at Amsterdam Science Park. The six-storey, 13,000m2 office and laboratory building is one of the smartest and most sustainable buildings in Amsterdam.

This new project by Dutch architecture firm MVRDV provides accommodation for some 18 sustainable companies interested in collaborating with the university and science institutes at Amsterdam Science Park. The building forms the hub of the Matrix Innovation Center and is intended to serve as a sustainable example for other buildings, both within and outside the science park.

Frans de Witte, partner and architect at MVRDV, talks about this special project.

What is the Matrix Innovation Center (Matrix IC) and how does Matrix ONE fulfil the role of social centre?

Matrix IC is aimed to bring knowledge-driven and innovative companies and talents together, at the heart of science. Matrix IC has several buildings on the Science Campus. Matrix One is the Innovation Hub specialised in sustainability and also serves as a social hub for the employees of all Matrix buildings. There is a large vegetarian restaurant on the ground floor that caters for all employees in all buildings. A special feature of the building is its social staircase that zigzags up to the southern corner of the building and is designed to encourage informal meetings. In addition, a space had been created on the 5th floor, especially for Friday afternoon drinks.

How groundbreaking is the building in terms of sustainable design?

Right from the start, the project was focused on circularity as one of the important features of the building. This is not only a matter of materials, but also and particularly of flexibility and demountability.

Through its flexibility characteristic, the building is able to adapt to the changing demands of the times and from its users. This will ensure that Matrix ONE remains relevant over time. For instance, the interior walls are modular and flexible, and so are the installations which are visibly suspended in the corridors for easy access and flexibility. This means that offices can be converted easily into laboratories and vice versa.

With regard to demountability, we have registered the building’s model, consisting of over 120,000 parts, in Madaster. This will allow for the reuse of over 90% of the materials and, in the future, will show exactly which materials and end products were used in its original construction.

Copyright: MVRDV / Daria Scagliola

Furthermore, we paid a large amount of attention to the building’s assembling and disassembling options. To this end, the steel structure has been bolted rather than welded, floors are not fixed but are placed loose on top of the steel, the aluminium modules of the facade have been visibly screwed to the wooden exterior, the felt modules are loosely suspended within the aluminium frame, and so on.

The building also promotes a healthy lifestyle with its stairwell located in a central position and the indoor bicycle parking facilities clearly visible and accessible from the atrium.

Can the building be fully dismantled?

No, unfortunately not, as the building’s foundation (the piling) is not yet demountable. We did investigate with IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs for a project in Utrecht how this could be achieved in the future for a building of this size.

How energy-efficient is the building?

The building meets Amsterdam’s ambitious energy consumption targets and is BREEAM Excellent-certified. The 13,000m2 building generates most of the required energy itself via 1,000m2 of solar panels on the roof.

What are the lessons learned?

Applying sustainability, flexibility and demountability as components of the concept, right from the outset, makes it easier to inspire people and get them on board.

Will Matrix ONE set the new standard for subsequent projects?

Matrix ONE is the new standard for Matrix IC and their future projects.

Where are you located?