Paul de Ruiter

The TNT Centre

The blueprint for sustainable architecture

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Though the TNT Centre in Hoofddorp was completed in 2011, it remains the most sustainable office building in the Netherlands, and is among the top five in Europe. At the time of its commission, the client was on a mission to become the world’s first energy-neutral parcel delivery company, and the new head office was to be its first illustration of this ambition. To deliver mail is to connect people, and TNT’s internal operation itself relies on direct and easy contact between its staff. We wanted our design to reflect. Our eventual response to the brief is a building defined by openness and transparency. The building comprises a U-shaped six-storey volume wrapped around a light and airy atrium that defines the building’s interior architecture.

Offices, LEED, GPR, Energy neutral

A staircase as a design statement

The combined effect of the scale and inviting openness of the atrium, its daylit illumination and the arrangement of furniture in islands on the ground floor makes it the natural venue for receiving visitors, and locating the staff canteen on this floor allowed us to further reinforce its function as the main venue for interaction. Meeting rooms along the periphery of the atrium offer additional privacy when needed. We used a central wooden staircase to pronounce the depth of the building by fashioning it as a ribbon of pale wood unfolding through the building and ascending to the upper-floor terraces in a single unbroken line. Its central position also encourages people to walk between floors, rather than use the elevators, which we placed out of sight, thereby also minimising energy consumption.

Meeting TNT’s climate neutral ambitions meant taking every opportunity offered by natural sources of illumination, heat and power (in the form of sunlight, wind and water), and using recycled materials where possible to minimise the building’s reliance on anything that required fossil fuels in its manufacture. Hence the building’s north-south orientation, which allows it to capture as much daylight as possible, thereby increasing its energy efficiency and making it cheaper to run. Innovative sun blinds allow daylight illumination in every room without compromising the views. And the acoustic wall panels are of recycled felt.

Future-proofed flexibility

The six office floors overlooking the atrium accommodate 600 workplaces. Flexibility is built into the layout to enable expansion or reduction in department size without the necessity for major structural changes. The materials and neutral colours of the interior surfaces and furniture have been carefully coordinated and used consistently throughout the office. Each floor offers a combination of open-plan and glassed-in offices, so that work that requires silence and concentration or meetings that demand privacy may be conducted behind closed doors. Open meeting spots on each floor serve for more informal discussions.

We based the design on climate principles such as sunlight, heat, wind and water, the use of recyclable materials and the reduction of fossil fuels. For example, the building captures as much sunlight as possible through the ideal north-south positioning, innovative shading enables daylight to enter in every single room in the building, and we designed acoustic wall panels made out of recycled felt.

The “green machine”, a biomass power plant, supplies all the centre’s energy.

The Green Machine

All the energy required by the TNT Centre is generated by innovative systems within the building itself. The centrepiece of these is a “green machine”, a bio-cogeneration plant that runs on organic waste and employs heat/cold storage in underground aquifers. Power surpluses are directed to the public grid, while periodic shortages are met by withdrawing sustainably generated energy from same. The heat released in the process is used to heat the buildings in TNT Centre’s immediate vicinity.

Project details


Total floor area 17,250 m² (excl. parking garage)
Project description Headquarters with underground parking facility for 350 cars, conference centre, secure and fitting reception area, staff canteen with terrace, coffee bar and in-house post office
Start of design October 2008
Start of construction February 2009
Completion January 2011


Client OVG Triodos-OVG Green Offices, Rotterdam/Zeist
Tenant TNT Express, Hoofddorp
Project architect Paul de Ruiter
Project team Chris Collaris, Richard Buijs, Christian Quesada van Beresteyn, Menno Kooistra, Friso Gouwetor, Haik Hanemaaijer, Silvester Klomp, Willem Jan Landman, Roel Rutgers, Willeke Smit, Marieke Sijm, Noud Paes
Construction consultant Van Rossum Raadgevende Ingenieurs, Rotterdam
Building services engineering Deerns Raadgevende Ingenieurs, Rijswijk
Contractor Boele & Van Eesteren, Rijswijk
Interior design Ex Interiors, Nieuwegein
Sustainability consultant (GreenCalc+) DGMR, Arnhem
Sustainability consultant (LEED) B & R Adviseurs voor Duurzaamheid, Amersfoort
Structural engineering and fire engineering consultants DGMR, Arnhem
Cost consultant BBN Adviseurs, Rotterdam
Architectural lighting consultants Atelier Lek, Rotterdam; ArpaLight, Bavel
Acoustic consulting Level Acoustics, Eindhoven
Installation technician Kropman Installatietechniek
Urban design Rijnboutt
Landscape design Lodewijk Baljon Landschapsarchitecten
LEED certification score score 8,6
GreenCalc+ 1005 punten
GPR score score 8,6
Energy rating A+++
Photography Alexander van Berge; Bowie Verschuuren; Pieter Kers

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