transformation to cultural center
Mei architects and planners developed a strategy for the cocoa factory of Helmond, based on respect for the cultural-historical point of view and with the desire to integrate the factory in its modern and constant changing urban context. From a historical point of view factories, and in this case the cocoa factory, have always expanded and shrunk in time. This fact has been taken as the main design principle, in which the new factory will be a flexible building that easily adapts to the needs of the time.
The remaining valuable plant needs to become a real factory again to reflect the character of Helmond as a workers-city. This is accomplished by making the old and original working of the cocoa plant visible again. Mid-tech manufacturing (e.g. chocolate) is integrated in the program, the old shaft has become a unique object in the building bearing the design to make the historical relationship between the factory and the Zuid Willemsvaart perceptible. Cocoa trees in greenhouses are added, historic images are used in the interior, unique details are preserved, imperfections are embraced and the authentic façade is renovated.