Very few traces of the industrial activity are left along the Vaartsche Rijn in the Hoograven district of Utrecht. After years of disuse, most of the factory chimneys and buildings had either collapsed or been demolished. A similar fate awaited the Neerlandia factory.
It was built in 1914 as Chemische Fabriek v/h Dr. F.C. Stoop. From 1932, Draadindustrie Neerlandia produced clout-nails and all kinds of wire at the factory and extended the complex with eight warehouses. After rag and scrap metal business Prozee left, who used the site from 1973 to 2002, the complex lay empty and fell into disrepair.
Only the monumental south and west façades of the wire factory have been retained, but not in their entirety. ‘The factory building was considerably longer – ca. 100m compared to ca. 92m now – and has literally been cut through to create space for a new street and houses to the east of the building. I kept the saw cut on the corner in the brickwork as a feature.’
The historic facades façades have been fitted with new high-quality aluminium windows reminiscent of the old steel windows. Poolen: ‘The original steel windows were multi-paned windows with fine glazing bars and a slimness closely matched by the renovation profiles by Reynaers Aluminium. The only windows in the side aisles were high up. Obviously, more windows were needed for the residences. By putting the car park under the factory, we were able to retain the closed frontage on the ground floor. Above this, we added new windows, right below the existing ones.’ The result is a balanced frontage.
The long south façade has a high level of noise exposure because of the nearby A12, which is why double windows were fitted here. The interior window can be opened and the fixed exterior multi-paned window offers soundproofing and has an 80mm gap at the top and bottom for ventilation.
Slim aluminium windows were also used in the nave, while larger aluminium windows have been fitted in the end façade on the quay. Hotel and catering facilities will soon be moving into this space on the ground floor. Façade construction company Alkondor fitted all the windows.
Modern end façade offers a glimpse into the past
The new easterly end façade has a modern design with an industrial look. Within a frame of black steel H-beams, the façade has been clad with bronze coloured anodised aluminium sheets. Displayed within this frame is a picture of the Neerlandia factory before the renovation, created using perforated aluminium sheets. This was done by making a negative image of an old photo, which was then transformed into perforations varying from 6 to 18mm.
Narrow window strips have been created here and there and in the middle, there is a big recess where an entry to the car park is situated as well as the inner street between the residences. Steps and a fire escape staircase have a corten steel balustrade.