Short Description

How it started

Venlo decided in 2007 to build their city hall as a shining example of Cradle to Cradle design to residents and businesses. The creation of a pleasant and healthy workplace for employees of the municipality of Venlo has been the central theme: a building that will create a comfortable and healthy working environment, combined with sustainable innovation. The new city hall will be an icon at the river Meuse that proudly refers to the agriculture and logistics traditions of the city of Venlo. It is a building, which exudes what the municipal organisation wants to be: open, transparent and accessible.

The programme of requirements consists of a 3-layer public parking garage with 400 parking lots and a total office floor space of 13,500m2. The capital costs are estimated at 62 million euros, additionally with the highest possible application level of Cradle to Cradle within the fixed budget. The design and realisation of the city hall is planned within 5 years, with the realization in 2015. The starting points, together with the Cradle to Cradle ambition, are translated in the programme of requirements. The programme of requirements is the blueprint for the design and construction of the building. Venlo City Hall is one of the first and few building developments within the Netherlands with defined Cradle to Cradle ambitions.

Selection of the design team

The programme of requirements was the basis for the European architectural tender procedure. Venlo chose another order than normally is followed during a tender. Usually, a client asks for a design. In contrast, Venlo asked architects to present their vision on the assignment, with special attention to Cradle to Cradle.

The five best visions that met the requirements were invited to a kick-off meeting with trailblazers (‘frontrunners’) in the field of Cradle to Cradle. In addition to the co-founder of Cradle to Cradle (Prof. Dr. Braungart and McDonough+Partners), these trailblazers inspired and challenged the five remaining architects to translate the C2C principles to their final vision. After the kick-off meeting, these five remaining architectural firms got two weeks to complete their final vision on the assignment for the design of Venlo City Hall. After that, the commission assessed the submitted visions based on the selection criteria.

Out of more than 50 candidates, the project has been awarded Kraaijvanger Architects. The important elements of the vision were (1) a living green facade that cleans the indoor and outdoor air of the building, (2) the use of appropriate materials which can be recycled after they have been used and (3) the generation of more renewable energy by the building than the building will use.

Because the advisors, such as building manager and installation advisor, were selected based on their vision on Cradle to Cradle, the design team started with the right mindset on Cradle to Cradle design. After all advisors were selected the design process took off in spring 2009.

Design Process

The design team started the preliminary design phase with a pressure cooking session (design studio) and workshops which lasted a week. The pressure cooking initiated the integral design process, in which the different disciplines strengthened, rather than hampered, each other. Besides the general project team meetings, all the different stakeholders within the design team came together every month to monitor the continuity and synergy between the disciplines. The meetings were used to examine what the contribution of the market could be to realize the city of Venlo’s requirements and ambitions for this building. These market consultations have also been used to encourage the producers in the building industry to innovative product development, based on the Cradle to Cradle approach.

During the design process, the translation of the Cradle to Cradle philosophy proved to be a challenge. To put extra emphasis on the Cradle to Cradle-ambitions, the largest part of the design team decided to follow a Cradle to Cradle training. Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart’s institute organized and facilitated a 4-day during training. The training did not only encourage the design team, but also made clear that focus should be made in the project.

Because it is not yet possible to realize a 100% Cradle to Cradle building, a focus on a specific number of aspects becomes crucial. In the case of Venlo City Hall, four aspects in which the Cradle to Cradle ambitions are reflected were selected.
First, how can the building enhance indoor and outdoor air quality, and use climate change gases to enhance air quality?
Second, how can the building and its site produce more renewable energy that the building will use? Third, how can applied materials be appropriate for a biological or technological cycle, without the loss of quality? And finally, how can the building improve water quality, so the water becomes healthy for biological metabolisms?

Business Case

As mentioned, Venlo deems Cradle to Cradle an economic principle. Focussed on the four aforementioned selected aspects, the project team started to examine what the economic added value of sustainable innovation and Cradle to Cradle solutions might be. Various potential solutions that could help to achieve the defined goals, were assessed based on investment, operational costs and total cost of ownership. In the end the bundle of solutions that would contribute to the achievement of the outlined goals, as well as save and earn money during the defined use time of the building, were translated into business cases. Compared to a traditional situation/case, the business cases indicated that an additional investment of 3,4 million euros, will bring a net result of 16,9 million euros after the defined use time of 40 years, with a return on investment of 11,5%. A safe and earn matrix proved that investments in Cradle to Cradle elements are profitable. Even after year 1, the exploitation costs are lower in the C2C business case, compared to a situation without the Cradle to Cradle elements. In time of an economic crisis, the municipality should decrease their budgets with 40 million euro. Instead of cutting the budget of city hall, the abovementioned business case was presented to the council. Where they expected substantial savings, the project team asked for an additional investment, rather than cutting in the fixed budget. With the well-founded calculation of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), the council anonymously agreed with the proposed save and earning matrix.

Facts and Figures:

13,500 m2 of floor area;
2,000 m2 of office space in the Nedinsco;
approximately 630 workstations (flex-factor 75%);
3-story public parking garage with approximately 400 parkingspaces;
11 floors;
2,026 m2 green facade;
total cost: 46 million.

The Benefits

The project is still under construction and will be completed mid-2015, the following benefits will be realized:
• Positive business case of 16,8 million euro’s in 40 years and a return on investment of 11,5% ;
• The building will purify the outdoor air quality in a radius of 500m. Universities and scientific institute (Technical University Eindhoven and TNO) have investigated that City Hall will have a positive effect on its environment.;
• A numerous number of Cradle to Cradle Certified products will be used;
• The building will generate renewable energy, filter and infiltrate water and purify air quality;
• Because of Venlo’s C2C-ambitions for this project, several companies have certified their products;
• Arrangements have been made for reversal of products (take-back);
• Both national and international attention for the project during events, magazines and other media;
• The process encouraged the internal organization of Venlo, with a result that circular models are more and more integrated in (governmental) projects and policy;
• Cradle to Cradle is already part for the facility management of the building (e.g. toilet paper, soaps, etc).


Enhance Air Quality:
The question ‘How can the building enhance the indoor- & outdoor air quality?’ can be expressed in the following desired results:
  • Improving outdoor air quality with the building;
  • Improving indoor air quality with the building;
  • Increasing the biodiversity with the building;
  • Aesthetically appropriate in its environment;
  • Increasing labour productivity.
Continuous Material Cycles:
The question ‘What are suitable materials that can continuously return in a biological or technological cycle without qualityloss?’ can be expressed in the following desired results:
  • Materials are appropriate for a biological- or technological cycle;
  • Cradle to Cradle certified products are used;
  • Residues are raw materials for new products;
  • Products and materials have an added value for users and the environment;
Renewable Energy:
The question ‘How can the building produce more energy than it uses?’ can be expressed in the following desired results:
  • The building uses only renewable energy;
  • There is more renewable energy produced by the building than is used;
  • There is the possibility to integrate innovative energy solutions over time;
  • Energy-Efficiency has been applied to integrate renewable energy rather than reduce fossil fuels;
  • The energy system is (physically and virtually) visible;
Enhance Water Quality:
The question ‘How can the water quality be improved by the building’ can be expressed in the following desired results:
 The building enhance water quality;
  •  Nutrients are extracted from the (waste)water;
  •  The water system (physical and virtual) is visible.

Thereafter, the desired results and KPI’s constituted the basic requirements for roadmaps. A roadmap describes the development of the building and selected elements for future innovations and improvements. The roadmaps contain the milestones and performance indicators of the new city hall. The defined C2C-ambitions and roadmaps were embedded in the organization of Venlo, as a determined framework for further development of the project. The daily organization and the city council unanimously agreed with the C2C ambition document proposed process.

Intended Use

City hall


  • Project Architect(s):


  • Project Developer(s):


  • Project Engineer(s) & Contractor(s):

    C2C ExpoLAB;
    BBN Advisors;
    Royal Haskoning;
    WSM engineering.

  • Project Advisor:

Project Showcase


  • Materials General

    • ⁂ Healthy Materials
    • ⁂ Continuous Material Cycles
    • Positive Impact

      The specification prescribes a maximum number of available Cradle to Cradle certified products on the market. Beside, the project encourages other businesses to innovate. A internal check for Cradle to Cradle potential boosts producers as first step to Cradle to Cradle certification, and gives the principal an better understanding of the quality of the used product. During the design and realization process, the city hall project incited different product certifications. Agreements are already been made about take-back systems after the use time of the products.

      During the design process, the question was arising what the possibilities are for the furniture of the building. The tender process for the interior, which started with a market consultation, made clear the substantial benefits. The tender requested Cradle to Cradle certified products to a maximum, but also included the reversal take-back system of the product after 10 years and the financial residual value of these products. As a result, a maximum number of products that are in line with the Cradle to Cradle design protocol will be used, all materials can return to their suppliers and a significant guaranteed financial residual value is defined.

    • Benefits

      • Materials are appropriate for a biological- or technological cycle;
      • Residues are raw materials for new products;
      • Healthy indoor quality;
      • Products and materials have an added value for users and the environment.

    • Used Materials

      Cityhall is being built at the moment (2015). The green facade, C2C Certified, of Mosterd the Winter is already visible, also the Dow isolation, Holz 100 and Accoya wood. Many more products will follow...

    Element Showcase

  • Water System

    • ⁂ Enhance Water Quality ()
    • Positive Impact

      Another important cycle in the building that can be distinguished, is the water cycle. Five water streams are divided:
      (1) rainwater,
      (2) drinkingwater,
      (3) grey water such as residual water from sinks,
      (4) black water, which can be subdivided in brown-, and yellow water such as redidual water from toilets.

      The roofs, covered with green, collect rainwater for watering the green wall and flushing toilets. Generally, every person uses 127,5 litre per day. Thereof, only 4,5 litres needs to have the quality of drinking water. The other 123 litres will be covered in the building with lower quality (no drinking water). The grey water is collected in a biological system with reed, a so-called hylofyt filter. This system filters the grey water. Among others, the filtered grey water can be reused for flushing toilets in the black water stream.
      To create a continuous black (brown and yellow) water cycle, the project team wanted to integrate algae systems. However, on this scale it was not yet profitable. So, the roadmap takes such a system into account for the upcoming years. The design can anticipate on future innovations and does not hamper innovative developments in the future.

    • Benefits

      The objective with regard to water of the new Venlo City Hall is to use the building to improve the water quality. Specifically this means that the stakeholder wants to achieve the following desired results with the building:

      -The building will enhance water quality;
      -Nutrients are extracted from the (waste)water;
      -The water system (physical and virtual) is visible.

    Element Showcase

  • Energy (electric)

    • ⁂ Integrate Renewable Energy
    • Positive Impact

      Subsequently, the ultimate goal of the city council is to generate more renewable energy (electric and heat) than the building will use. The programme of requirements prescribe a energy-efficiency of 50% lower then the national requirements, plus a Energy Label of A+.
      Various solutions are integrated to generate renewable energy. Beside, breakthrough efficiency solutions are integrated, to reduce the need of energy and give possibility for new innovative energy solutions. In total, 1,000m2 photovoltaic cells will be incorporated in the south façade to produce electric energy. As a wink to both cycles of Cradle to Cradle, the north (green) façade is designed as biological façade. The south façade is designed as technical façade. In addition to the electric energy, thermal energy is produced by geothermal energy and 25m2 solar water heaters. The total design needs no gas connection. Current solutions will generate approximately 50-60% of the total energy demand. Breakthrough efficiency, awareness of the users and new techniques will have to increase that number.

    • Benefits

      An objective of the new Venlo City Hall is that the building generates more renewable energy than it uses.
      The desired results of the stakeholders with regard to energy are:

      The building uses only renewable energy;
      There is more renewable energy produced by the building than is used;
      There is the possibility to integrate innovative energy solutions over time;
      Energy efficiency has been applied to integrate renewable energy rather than reduce fossil fuels;
      The energy system is physically and virtually visible.

    Element Showcase

  • Furniture

    • ⁂ Healthy Materials
    • Positive Impact

      The objective for the interior of the new Venlo City Hall is that Cradle to Cradle principles should be applied to as great an extent as possible within the boundary conditions (quality, costs, time). The following desired results are expressed for the interior of the building:

      • Cradle to Cradle certified materials and products are used;
      • Materials and products are suitable for a biological or technological cycle;
      • Gained knowledge around the implementation of Cradle to Cradle in the interior is shared;
      • Materials and products are provided with an information label or tag;
      • The health of users and visitors is improved.

    • Benefits

      The objective for the interior of the new Venlo City Hall is that Cradle to Cradle principles should be applied to as great an extent as possible within the boundary conditions (quality, costs, time). The following desired results are expressed for the interior of the building:

      • Cradle to Cradle certified materials and products are used;
      • Materials and products are suitable for a biological or technological cycle;
      • Gained knowledge around the implementation of Cradle to Cradle in the interior is shared;
      • Materials and products are provided with an information label or tag;
      • The health of users and visitors is improved.

  • Air System

    • ⁂ Enhance Air Quality and Indoor Climate ()
    • Positive Impact

      One of the desired results is to enhance indoor and outdoor air quality with the building. The baseline made clear that indoor air quality in average buildings is poor with an adverse effect on productivity and amount of sick-days. Beside, the outdoor air quality around a busy arterial road needs improvements. For that reason, the integral design contains elements to create a healthy, pleasant and safe indoor- and outdoor air quality. Therefore, a greenhouse is situated at the top as ‘green lungs’ of the building. The greenhouse purifies the outdoor air with functional living green, before it will enter the building. The purified air will enter the different floors, after a piping system in the floors have created the comfortable temperature. A vide structure, from ground floor till rooftop, provides a natural ventilation flow.
      Beside, the vide encourages interaction between departments and boost the use of stairs. On top of the vide structure, a solar chimney is situated. The solar chimney will heat up by the sun, warm air rises, and a natural air flow is created. On average, the indoor air quality in buildings is 4 to 8 times worse then outside, based on European studies. The goal of this building is to enhance the outdoor air quality. So before the indoor air will leave the building, the air is guided through a green wall. The green wall has a surface of 2,200m2 in total, unique in Europe. Together with green roofs, the façade will enhance the outdoor air quality in a radius of 500m. Calculated by the Technical University Eindhoven and TNO.

    • Benefits

      Clean Indoor air quality;
      Clean Outdoor air quality;

    • Used Materials

      Cityhall is being built at the moment (2015). The green, C2C Certified, facade of Mosterd the Winter is already visable.

    Element Showcase

  • Facade

    • ⁂ Enhance Air Quality and Indoor Climate ()
    • ⁂ Actively Support Biodiversity
    • Positive Impact

      Increasing the biodiversity with the building;
      Aesthetically appropriate in its environment;
      Increasing labour productivity.

    • Used Materials

      C2C Certified green facade of Mosterd the Winter

    Element Showcase


    There are no delights in this project.

Additonal Information

Approved on:

Preview: City Hall Venlo

Venlo, The Netherlands