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Daylight & Architecture

Green oasis - Office building in Haelen

Everyone was to profit when the mechanical engineering company Geelen Counterflow decided to expand its headquarters with a new office building in the industrial area of Haelen. Here, 50 new workstations were created for the office staff, the workers from the adjacent factory hall acquired new changing rooms and the workforce as a whole was given a new canteen. The emphasis in each case was on very high quality. In the BREAAMNL certification system, the new building was given five stars, the highest achievable rating. The main reasons for this were the healthy interior climate and the highly ecological design of the new building, in line with cradle-to-cradle principles. Supports, load-bearing walls and ceilings are made of solid timber elements from the Black Forest that were made using wooden dowels rather than glue. Most of the construction was prefabricated and, at the end of its life cycle, can be easily dismantled and recycled. Geothermal heat pumps, solar collectors and more than 330 photovoltaic modules on the roof supply more energy than the building needs during the course of the year.
Ceiling-high windows in the wooden facades allow an abundant amount of light into the offices. They are merely an initial foretaste of the openness and transparency existing in the interior of the building. Only glass walls separate the individual areas, so that oblique views through the entire building and into the neighbouring factory hall are possible. The daylight, which enters through three modular skylights, reaches the training rooms and corridors deep in the interior of the building. The architects placed one of the skylights above the two-storey atrium in the middle of the building. This benefits not only the people who are present there but also a huge, two-storey wall of plants. The naturally grown work of art is more than an impressive eye-catcher; in harmony with light and wood, it transforms the space into an unexpected oasis of tranquility and helps to pleasantly im
Geelen Counterflow, Haelen, NL Architects: Architecten en Bouwmeesters, Herten-Roermond, NL Location: Windmolenven 43, Haelen, NL



Daylight has great impact on our health and happiness. It enriches our everyday lives with sensual pleasure. In fact daylight matters to all of us. The current issue of Daylight/Architecture discusses the vital importance of natural light from a variety of viewpoints.

In his essay, Juhani Pallasmaa describes how daylight interacts with our senses, and how great architects have harnessed this interplay to create memorable spaces, where light almost becomes a material of its own. Read more(link til atiklen) The impact of daylight on our health and wellbeing is discussed by Deborah Burnett in her article. She gives an update on recent research, that has found more pathways through which light exposure influences our sleep/wake cycles, hormone production, performance and alertness levels. Peter Holzer argues in his article, that designers should take the long-term health effects of buildings into account. This would imply allowing much more daylight in buildings. Read more (link til artikel).

The magazine features four buildings as examples of the interplay of light, human health and wellbeing. Photographers Adam Mørk and Daniel Blaufuks seek to capture the magic that natural light gives to the building’s atmospheres and does to the bodies and minds of people living, working and learning in buildings.

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