The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an international organisation committed to ridding the world of chemical weapons and the threat of their use. In 2013 the Organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ‘its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons’. The OPCW is upgrading its Laboratory and Equipment Store to a new Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre). Ector Hoogstad Architects was awarded the international tender to design the ChemTech Centre in Nootdorp as part of a design consortium.
Status Delivered 2023
Architect Ector Hoogstad Architects
Building services and structural engineer Royal Haskoning DHV
Construction IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs
Contractor Dura Vermeer
Lab consultant dr Heinekamp
Photography Marcel van der Burg, OPCW (CC license here)
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. Over 99% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under the watchful eye of the OPCW.
The OPCW Laboratory and equipment & logistics centre support the Organisation’s essential verification and inspection activities. The ChemTech Centre will become the new hub for these activities, while enhancing capacity to conduct non-routine missions and respond to new chemical weapons threats.
Benefitting from technological advances
State-of-the-art training facilities will provide greater support for international cooperation and assistance activities and will ensure that OPCW Member States benefit from advances in science and technology.
The ChemTech Centre is designed to facilitate efficient work processes and conduct activities according to strict protocols and safety standards. Our design is closely aligned with the OPCW’s logistics processes. All areas related to laboratory activities and the Equipment Store are situated on the ground floor. This facilitates quick and efficient mission preparations and deployments.
Training facilities and classrooms are located on the first floor, arranged around a central hall that offers views of the rest of the Centre. This is where practical and theoretical training is conducted, ranging from chemical analysis to emergency preparedness and response. The central hall is also designed to accommodate larger groups for events and lectures.
Harmony and balance
The shape of the building was largely dictated by the the plot and the facility’s multi-purpose mission. The design creates a sense of harmony and balance and features a unifying horizontal element that graces the façades. Upper floor façades are clad in wood and metal panels, and rest upon a ground floor clad in brickwork. The north-facing façade borders on a nature zone and will be adorned with climbing plants to promote biodiversity.
The façades are oriented to prevent solar heat gain which reduces energy consumption for cooling. In addition, electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems, and laboratory equipment, have been designed to make the centre as energy efficient as possible. The building features both a green roof and solar panels.
EHA is also responsible for the building interior, which consists of three domains of distinctive character. The equipment and logistics centre is intentionally understated and functional, with an industrial aesthetic. The laboratories are bright and airy, with a professional look and are naturally designed to meet the highest standards for health and safety. In the meeting rooms and central hall, wood panelling, indoor landscaping and a carefully selected colour palette have been used to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
EHA based the design for the new ChemTech Centre on a co-design process with the client and end-users, a process that was done entirely digitally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The building was delivered according to planning and within budget thanks to generous donations made by a large part of OPCW’s 193 member states.