Refurbishment of WWF building in Zeist

WWF building in Zeist

Refurbishment of WWF building in Zeist

Flowing form, friendly for all Earth’s inhabitants

The WNF headquarters in Zeist is an earth-friendly building, which gives back more energy than it uses. All materials in the building were tested against strict requirements laid down by the WNF and the architect. This included the clay roof tiles covering the new “blob” entrance and the facing bricks of the restored wings. In 2002, with a closed competition for seven architects, the WNF (World Nature Fund) went in search of the design for their new Dutch HQ. The organisation had its eye on a small piece of a protected nature reserve area, where an empty laboratory from 1954 was going to rack and ruin. Architect’s firm RAU from Amsterdam won with a plan that “naturally” linked energy-saving and environmentally friendly construction to the organisation’s programme of demands.

Natural learnings

The building was officially opened in September 2006. Here visitors learn “naturally” about air-conditioning systems (including the human body’s energy metabolism), natural light entry and suitable materials for the interior. The WNF checks all materials for source of the raw material, production method and also who the manufacturers are.

Clay as natural cover

Clay was the basic raw material for cladding the strikingly large main entrance: the flowing form is covered with a blend of glazed clay roof tiles. Little bulges here and there betray the presence of stone “nesting boxes”: the building thus also offers a “roof” to the inhabitants of the nature reserve.

Bats and birds on the wings

The main façades of the wings were recovered with dark-red bricks and dark mortar. In the east wing there are also small round openings in the façade, behind which there could be bird’s nests. In the west wing, the openings are bricked in and larger: behind them there are “bat cellars” where large groups of bats can nestle.

Building back to nature

“We make earth-friendly buildings”, says architect Thomas Rau. “In fact, we gave this piece of nature back to the planet by erecting a building that is not only energy neutral, but also contributes in many respects to a better environment. And not just for humans!”


Project: Refurbishment of WNF building in Zeist (The Netherlands)
Client: WNF Zeist
Architect: Architect’s Firm Rau, Amsterdam / Thomas Rau
Main contractor: Building Company Van Zoelen bv, Utrecht
Roofing contractor: Leidekkersbedrijf Willem Van Boxtel, Ubbergen
Clay roof tiles used: Koramic Pottelberg Plain Tile 301 smooth, anthracite, slate matt glazed, brown glazed, wine red glazed, black glazed
Photos: Hubaer Kusters