Stripped-down V&D building ready for new ‘coat’

Photo credit: Studio040

The former V&D department store was once the Eindhoven city centre’s beating heart. After months of demolition, only a concrete house of cards and a large pile of rubble remain. 

What did the V&D look like? The entrance was glass, with on the right, ladies’ bags and a display case with watches and jewellery, and bins of gloves. At the escalators, you could already smell it – Café La Place with its pizza points and patisserie.

But after months of demolition, not a trace of all this is left. The building has been stripped to the bone. All outer walls, partitions, electricity, glass, plastic and wooden structures have been removed or to be removed. Only a huge gaping hole remains as a reminder of a place where people would slowly go up and down the escalator.

Taking no chances

Studio040 journalists were given a tour of this old, striking building which is being given a new lease on life. John van Geffen, project manager at ABCNova, who was tasked with the renovation, led them around. Demolishing a vibrant shopping centre – even if the life has been out of it for a while – is an enormous challenge, Van Geffen says.

“The shopping streets (like Demer and Vrijstraat), didn’t allow us to reach in from the outside. Everything had to be dismantled from the inside. We had to use nets and wooden bulkheads to protect the public from any possible falling debris.”

It wasn’t just the safety aspect that complicated the demolition. Rubble removal was also tricky. Apart from the shopping streets, there was no decent access to the rubble in the building. “It’s like demolishing your attic and having to get everything out through a cat flap.”

Rubble removal was challenging

“That’s the challenge we were facing”, Van Geffen explains. Dozens of rubble trucks were brought in via the Hooghuis parkade on Keizersgracht. “Fortunately we were able to dispose of some the rubble in the building’s unusable part’s basement. We’ve demolished that part altogether.”

The new building at the corner of Demer/Vrijstraat will be an eye-catcher in every respect, Van Geffen promises. “It was a rather dark box, with a lot of walls. They put as many cupboards and racks of clothing against these.”

“But soon, you’ll be able to see what’s going on inside from the outside. We’re not going to work away the visible old floor and pillar construction. This transparency was an explicit wish of Municipal supervisor, Winy Maas. He’s in charge of the complete renovation of the centre. That includes the redevelopment of the station area (District E) and Stadhuisplein”.

Redevelopment will start soon

The V&D building’s demolition will be completed in a month. After the summer holidays, the building’s redevelopment will start. That’s expected to be completed in December 2021.

Shops will return to the lower two floors: Foot Locker and Costes, in any case. A third party’s still being sought. Levels 2 to 5 will be occupied by business cluster, Microlab, which already has a location in StrijpS.

The completely demolished part of the V&D building is adjacent to Vrijstraat. What will happen there’s not yet known. Van Geffen says, “A residential tower might be built there. But it might just as easily be an extension of the building we are now going to build. That’s still under investigation.”

Source: Studio040

Translator: Bob

Editor: Melinda Walraven

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