Studioninedots converts Utrecht railway warehouse into community hub

Exterior of Bovenbouwwerkplaats community hub in Utrecht by Studioninedots

Dutch architecture practice Studioninedots has transformed a former railway warehouse in Utrecht into a cluster of co-working and community spaces named Bovenbouwwerkplaats.

Looking to celebrate the “rawness and elegance” of the early 20th-century building, Studioninedots restored its neglected brick and steel structure but left its original fittings and materials exposed.

Exterior of a converted warehouse in Utrecht
Studioninedots has converted a former railway warehouse in Utrecht

Bovenbouwwerkplaats sits at the centre of Wisselspoor, a new development by Studioninedots that includes an eclectic series of townhouses and apartment blocks by Space Encounters, Mees Visser and Zecc Architecten.

Neighbourhood services, community groups and local entrepreneurs will all be invited to occupy the building to create a new, central hub for the area.

Housing in front of the Bovenbouwwerkplaats community hub in Wisselspoor, Utrecht by Studioninedots
Bovenbouwwerkplaats sits within the Wisselspoor development

“By merging a wide range of ambitions and functions that are normally spread across an area into the Bovenbouwwerkplaats, a small-scale urban core where anything can happen is formed,” explained the studio.

“Underneath the existing roof, we created one open space that will be home to new neighbourhood facilities and creative entrepreneurs,” it continued. “The space stimulates the senses yet invites your own interpretation of its use.”

Exterior of Bovenbouwwerkplaats community hub by Studioninedots
A perforated metal volume protrudes from the roof

At the centre of the warehouse is a “mobility hub” for 175 shared cars and bicycles, wrapped in a perforated metal “curtain” that protrudes from the original building’s roof.

Surrounding this central form is a series of flexible spaces for the community, set against the industrial backdrop and overlooking a landscaped garden through large windows.

The interior is flooded with natural light through large skylights in the zig-zagging roof, which is supported by exposed steel trusses.

“Our transformation restores all the industrial qualities of the old warehouse – its skeleton, roofs, external facade and detailing,” said Studioninedots.

Early 20th-century warehouse interior
The warehouse’s structure has been preserved

According to the studio, the protruding metal element is designed to change in appearance in different light throughout the day, while helping to create a unique identity for the building.

“The curtain constantly renews the appearance of the building throughout the day and the seasons,” said the studio. “From its wide surroundings, Bouvenbouwwerkplaats is recognisable as the new icon of Wisselspoor.”

Interior of converted railway warehouse in Utrecht
Its original details are left exposed

Studioninedots was founded in Amsterdam in 2011 by Albert Herder, Vincent van der Klei, Arie van der Neut and Metin van Zijl.

Other recent projects by the studio include a stepped social housing block on Amsterdam’s waterfront and the conversion of a 1970s office building in the Dutch city of Hilversum.

The photography is by Sebastian van Damme.

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