Gouda Cheese Warehouse – a national monument – experienced a spectacular transformation to a loft residential building. Mei architects took the initiative to start this successful development together with White House Development. A spacious atrium is created in the heart of the building, enclosed by 52 unique and sophisticated loft homes. Because of the innovative re-use of elements from the old cheese warehouse, like the original cheese boards, you can still experience the 100-year-old history of making cheese.
Dark alley transformed into a light atrium
The original cheese warehouse of ‘De Producent’ is a national monument. Therefore the main changes of the transformation to loft homes are only visible once you enter the building. The removal of pieces of the floor and facades on both sides of the original ventilation alley, and the addition of a glass roof, creates a royal atrium. Four layers of loft apartments can be reached from here. Parts of the original alley facade have been remained up and running as hoistway. The residents are able to reach their apartment through the two glass elevators which go up and down along the historical facades, while experiencing the building to the fullest.
For this transformation, Mei took as much elements as possible out of the old cheese warehouse and gave them a second life in the new construction. The shelfs, where cheese ripened for over 100 years, are re-used as finishing touch on the facades in the atrium. After extensive research it turned out possible to treat the cheese boards with monomers to meet the fire resistant requirements. The signs of use on the boards are still visible after this treatment. In some of the cheese shelfs a wise lesson is carved as an extra meaning. The sentences come from a goose board game that was found in the archive of De Producent. The attentive resident or visitor will be surprised by these references to the history of the cheese warehouse. Also, the original trays, which hung onto the shelfs to manage the maturation process of the cheese, are being re-used; as house numbers.
Circularity in this project is not only for sustainability and cost-effectivity, but gives meaning to the building by keeping the 100-year-old history alive.
Existing wooden floors as formwork
To carry the weight of a million kilos of cheese, the warehouse had two seperate construction systems. One for the building and one for the cheese. The original construction is re-used and maintained unfinished and visible in the loft apartments; steel columns, wooden and concrete ceilings and wooden attic beams. The existing floors are used as lost formwork for the new concrete floors, so the original wooden ceilings were able to maintain visible and give the lofts an historic touch.
In conversation with the buyers
Due to the strategic placement of loggias in the outer facade – maintaining the monumental rhythm of characteristic small windows – a diverse range of floorplans was possible. All loft apartments are different, they vary from 60m2 to 180m2, and are tailor-made to individual wishes. Upon purchase, every buyer received personal consult with the architect. This was easy to organize, as Mei was involved with both the development as the sale of the apartments. Worth mentioning is the fact that all lofts – before an unknown type of living in Gouda – were sold within three months.
Most of the residents are still moving in and giving the homes a finishing touch. Soon we will show interior pictures of the unique lofts.
Publications: de Architect / Bouwwereld / Houtblad
Take a look at the teaser here.
Photos: Ossip van Duivenbode / Videos: Amber Heij