The Kromhout Barracks are based on the former site of Fort ‘t Vossegat on the outskirts of Utrecht. As a working environment for around 4,200 people, the intelligent logistical design comprises multiple new buildings integrated into the landscape with respect for existing historical monuments. Various national defence units are housed here, including the Royal Dutch Armed Forces’ new headquarters. The finished barracks complex boasts a total of 3,400 workspaces with conference, restaurant and sports facilities, as well as accommodation for defence personnel.
This PPP project was contracted out to the Komfort consortium who took responsibility for the design, building, financing, maintenance and operation of the complex for a period of 25 years. This form of procurement (DBFMO) represents a saving of around 15% for the Ministry of Defence, but sets a higher standard than usual for the architect, in terms of the longevity of the design and material solutions.
Three original features of the fort were retained: the 12-arch bridge, the drummer’s hut and the bomb-proof watchhouse. Meyer en Van Schooten Architects, working with restoration specialist Bureau Fritz, and landscape architects Karres en Brands Landschapsarchitecten, used these three monumental features as a cultural-historical guide to design the new Kromhout Barracks. The integration and mutual support of buildings and landscape was a special point of focus, as was the concentration of functional areas to allow for high-quality open space with the possibility of future expansion.
The plan comprises three areas; the Field, the Wedge and the Strip. The Field contains a loose configuration of buildings with sporting facilities, accommodation, conference spaces and a restaurant. A centrally located, triangular-shaped park dubbed the Wedge is the backbone of the spatial masterplan: it contains the drummer’s hut, the bomb-proof watchhouse and an accommodation block. The Strip to the east, encompasses office buildings which stand at right angles to the main park thoroughfare. On the other side, the Strip is bordered by a waterway.