BWRI Sappemeer

Midden-Groningen, NL

How does a special mix of functions result in a social and efficient building?


BWRI Sappemeer

The existing situation
Originally, the BWRI office for reintegration, work and income in Sappemeer was mainly known as an administrative organization. It counsels job seekers, finds them suitable jobs and provides them with a temporary income. But its services are expanding, and the BWRI now also offers apprenticeships and employment contracts. As a result, it is now also becoming a development company, allowing local residents to prepare for paid employment in a safe environment.

Not only was the BWRI operating from three different locations, but the buildings were outdated and in poor condition. The new building brings together the various activities and departments, and also serves as an accessible and pleasant place for a diverse and sometimes vulnerable group.

The new location is on the Oude Winschoterdiep and the building will provide the striking accent that this historic location deserves. The design refers to the old factory buildings that stood on the site, giving it a timeless and rugged appearance.

A central building with an efficient layout
We have carefully considered the whole design to create a place that is a pleasant environment where the organization of the different functions also comes together. The building is located in the centre of the site, leaving space at the front for a public entrance with a park and parking area for cars and bicycles. This green park and the terrace with (vegetable) garden form an inviting entrance. At the back of the building is the logistics area, including loading bays, containers and fleet of the Green Department. This creates a logical separation of functions and makes a welcoming entrance for visitors.

We have ensured that everything works together by placing all the functions next to the impressive public entrance:

  • A public area which everyone can enter (the restaurant and the ‘work square’)
  • An area with offices and meeting functions
  • A working area where workshops, production and logistics are easily accessible and visible from this central location in the building.

The interior of the building is compact and efficiently laid out. The workshops and production areas are accessed via a light corridor that runs along the north and south façades. The layout of these areas around the warehouse and dispatch area ensures short and safe routes. This means that employees and customers have a direct relationship with the restaurant and office. Meetings between these different departments are made possible by the central heart with its void and staircase. At the same time, low-stimulus routes have been created where necessary.

Less demolition!
Instead of demolishing the existing building on site, we will reuse much of the existing steel trusses and concrete floors. This means the building will have a low carbon footprint. This is further reduced by the fact that the building is a timber construction. The new building will also be constructed using a bio-based wood construction with columns, beams and hollow-core wooden flooring. The hollow-core wooden floors remain visible and provide mass and absorption, also contributing to good acoustics in the building.

Achieving high sustainability ambitions
In addition to a cost-effective and compact building, there were high sustainability ambitions to achieve. We have designed a building that is energy neutral. The existing structure will be fitted with well-insulated new roofs and façades, which will form a single unit with the new structure. Stability is provided by thin steel trusses at strategic locations in the building, and the load distribution in the floor by connecting the floor elements to each other. This creates a building with a free layout that is flexible for the future.

The façades are solid brick, meeting the requirement for a low maintenance façade. Large windows connect the user with the outside world and provide plenty of light in the workspace.

The final design was developed in close collaboration with consultants. By overlaying the various IFC models and allowing them to collide with each other, solutions were fully explored at this stage to avoid the risk of errors in the implementation.

BWRI Sappemeer

The BWRI centre in Sappermeer needed a new building to consolidate its various roles and functions. The organization was operating from three different sites, and the buildings were outdated and in poor condition. The new building brings together the different roles and departments and acts as an accessible and welcoming place for a diverse and sometimes vulnerable group.

The convergence of different functions has been carefully considered. The interior of the building is compact and efficient, and we have ensured that everything works together. Mixing and separating different functions is necessary, resulting in a pleasant place for all users to visit and a comfortable working environment with added value for all.

The building is centrally located on the site, providing a safe and natural separation between the public outdoor spaces at the front and the dispatch areas at the rear. The park-like green front garden provides accommodation and parking for bicycles and cars.

In addition to a cost-efficient and compact building, high sustainability standards were also set. We designed a building that is energy neutral. Instead of demolishing the existing building on site, we will reuse many of the existing steel trusses and concrete floors. This means the building will have a lower carbon footprint. Where new construction was unavoidable, the building has a timber frame structure.


BWRI Sappemeer
Midden-Groningen, NL
6.000 m²
Gemeente Midden-Groningen
mixed-use, Work
Development Phase
SWECO, Basalt, Vintis, ZRI, Sax architecten, RYSE
More info