Cocoa Factory Helmond. Netherlands
The once so successful Nederlandsche Cacaofabriek (Cocoa Factory) in Helmond went bankrupt in the 1930s, after which the buildings were always in shared use by different parties. The complex has undergone many changes in the course of time. For instance, the characteristic hipped roof disappeared and part of the complex was destroyed by fire in 2008. Nonetheless it remained the defining piece of industrial heritage in Helmond. Since March 2014 it has housed a cultural hotspot that includes a music venue, art cinema, exhibition space, catering and work spaces for companies in the creative industry. cepezed architects created the design and went for a contemporary, modern and recognizable culture cluster.
Due to the poor technical state of the various building components and the fragility of the bricks used in the main building, solutions were chosen that primarily reflect the original factory in an abstract interplay of forms. The former hipped roof is back, but with a contemporary playful appearance: the roof has a top layer of minimally detailed stainless steel. The façade walls of the main building had been painted countless times over the years and were very vulnerable. Bringing them back to their original state would have been a costly and timeconsuming process and involve a high risk of moisture penetration. After repairs were carried out in some places, the façades were treated with white Keim, a mineral paint that adheres well and provides a large degree of protection, durability and colourfastness. In combination with the new stainless steel roof, this gives an almost intangible image that is nonetheless unmistakably recognizable as the cocoa factory. An extension added in the 1920s was in a very bad state of repair and was replaced by modern new-build for the creative industry, where the existing façade alongside the water was however reused and has remained a distinctive feature.
Together with the extension, the original main building forms a U-shaped inner courtyard on which the music venue and the central foyer have been housed in a new-build volume. In the interests of acoustic separation and to enhance the incidence of daylight and spatial experience in the newly formed ensemble, this volume has been placed at some distance from the basis of the U-shape. The new-build has a distinctive industrial façade screen of vertically mounted anti-slip grilles. In cooperation with lighting architect Har Hollands, LED strips have been integrated into the grilles, thus turning the façade into a display as well.