Strijp-T: From coal power plant to Innovation Powerhouse

The former Philips power plant TR on the Zwaanstraat will become the new gateway of the Strijp-T area as 'Innovation Powerhouse'. The industrial building is being renovated to create space for design and innovation agency VanBerlo from August 2017. There will also be space for companies in the innovative creation sector.

This picture below marks the time in which the renovation was still in full swing, and a good dose of imagination was needed to visualise a studio, workshops, offices and the like that would ultimately fill the big, empty halls.

"Almost all the original machinery has sadly disappeared, which was necessary for the removal of asbestos", explains founder Ad van Berlo during a tour. Upon enormous concrete pillars on the ground floor stands simply a steel construction with concrete floors and single brick walls. The rest will be newly constructed. Some valves and other components have been saved. Van Berlo is searching for an artistic way of incorporating these into the building.

Concrete pillars, steel constructions, a vast emptiness. The power plant at Strijp-T in Eindhoven is being renovated for innovative companies.

Still visible are the enormous coal chutes. Coal was transported to the top floor and via the chutes deposited in the ovens several storeys high. The plant, which supplied energy to the entire Philips area since the fifties, later changed to oil and then to gas. Now there is a biogas plant next door. "It has seen four phases of energy processing, we are giving the building a new lease of life, a fifth phase", says Van Berlo's daughter Janne, architect at Atelier Van Berlo. She designed the plans together with the established Eindhoven architects Margriet Eugelink and Stefan de Bever. "We have approached it with a great deal of respect for the listed building", says Janne van Berlo.

A section of the building has an open steel construction, and will house greenery. The construction of the energy plant was actually never completed. "Now we are restoring the symmetry that can be seen in the drawings of designer Last", according to Janne van Berlo.

Artist impression by Janne van Berlo, Atelier Van Berlo.

VanBerlo has been looking for new premises for several years. CEO Thomas Paulen: "We are bursting at the seams on the Beemdstraat. We were looking for a new building that would provide not only more space but also a lot of inspiration. And given its location near Strijp-S, the creative heart of Eindhoven, it will certainly deliver this." Around hundred people currently work at VanBerlo. VanBerlo will have a studio of 2000 square meters with various kinds of workstations in the low-rise building at the front, on the Zwaanstraat, and a 400-meter workshop.

8000 m2 of office spaces are planned in the rear section of the building over four storeys in the 16-metre high hall. These are all intended for businesses that have something to do with the innovation industry in the broadest sense. From 3D printers, a model workshop and construction companies to patent agencies or software designers 'as long as they are innovative'. There is a lot of interest, says Van Berlo. "I think that we will sooner have to make a good selection than that there will be empty spaces."