The headquarters of the Delfland Water Authority have been completely renovated by architecture practice Mecanoo. Throughout the entire complex, SILO designed creative elements that stimulate social connectivity, spark dialogue, or provide privacy in an open office environment.
Water Authorities are among the oldest public organizations in the Netherlands. They assure us of clean and safe open water and protect us against flooding.
Family crests and water maps
Looking at the monumental facade of the headquarters, which dates back to 1505, is immediately clear that the Delfland Water Authority has a rich history. Family crests reference the days when influential families determined the way the first maps looked – water maps. The most important transport always used to go over water.
Building complex, complex renovation
The Water Authority headquarters is a complex of old and more recent buildings in the historic heart of Delft. Mecanoo won the tender for renovation, restoration and enhancing the complex’ sustainability with the help of SILO.
The architectural design optimizes the freedom of movement and boosts collaboration between its users. SILO was asked to conceive a plan for creative interventions that support the identity of the organization, whilst improving the working environment.
Over the past centuries, the Netherlands has gathered a lot of knowledge in the field of water management. With innovative techniques, the use of natural processes, and a dynamic approach, we can manage the water smartly. The cooperation between man and nature, regulated watercourses, and free-flowing streams result in an impressive system of waterways.
Virtual world of millions of droplets
Waterway systems were the starting point for SILO to research a distinctive visual language. Using 3D animation software we created a virtual water world and applied a simulation model to it. Millions of droplets flow through the waterways. They provide a dramatic spectacle of static and dynamic patterns, encompassing the organization’s core tasks.
From high-tech to high-craft
Inspired by the antique water maps in the Water Authority’s collection, SILO created a monumental tapestry for the central hall based on the virtual world of waterways. The tapestry is made up of millions of ‘water drops’.
From the simulation, a water map appears as a wavy landscape. Visual features of cartography, water behavior and the reflection of sunlight intertwine to form a rich composition that is constantly moved by water – lots of water.
Collaboration with TextielLab
In collaboration with the TextielLab in Tilburg, the water map has been processed and linked to different textile yarns. After a proofing phase, different types of wool, viscose, cotton, copper and reflective yarn were selected. The variation of yarns in combination with the specific weaving style causes a wavy effect. The various woven lanes have been combined to form the 50 m2 tapestry, totaling 23,739 km of thread and 1,030,978 ‘water drops’.
The images used on the many glass partition walls were also derived from the virtual water world. Depending on the density of the water droplets, they offer transparency or privacy in the office environment.
Whereas the tapestry as conversation starter strengthens the social cohesion in the workplace, the window applications create a continuous layer of identity. Each component serves a practical purpose and helps to tell the story of the Delfland Water Authority.
“Innovation and research are core values of Mecanoo. We always aim to work in close unison with our clients and involve external experts if that will create added value and spurs innovation. The cooperation with SILO has already proven itself again and again.
Now once more. SILO developed elements which feel like an unequivocal layer of identity, representing Delfland Water Authority’s DNA. With a breathtaking tapestry as an astonishing highlight.”
– Paul Ketelaar, partner Mecanoo architecten