Why we write about this topic:
The “Factory of the Future” is not only a concept, but also a building. Or rather: a series of buildings. We are monitoring its progress and impact.
Circularity and sustainability are paramount at Brainport Industries Campus in Eindhoven. The development of the second phase (BIC 2) will put even more emphasis on this, where possible.
Brainport Industries Campus (BIC) in Eindhoven has developed into a unique international campus for the high-tech manufacturing industry since its opening in 2019. It is, therefore, not “just” and building. “A campus is more than the sum of its parts,” says Chris Karman, quartermaster at the campus development organization (COO). Moreover, the ambition to further develop the campus is great: a BIC 2 is imminent. A green, sustainable and circular environment is once again a high priority.
Maintaining BIC concept values
“In doing so, the concept must remain guarded,” Karman says. “BIC is not just a business center. It is where companies come together because together, they can achieve more and have a better position. Also because education is linked to it.” To maintain that, according to Karman, there needs to be a dedicated organization that creates and maintains the concept value. And that is precisely what the COO does. Karman’s clients are SdK Vastgoed, Gemeente Eindhoven and Provincie Noord-Brabant. “This is mainly because it is in the public interest that we develop the campus in conjunction with what else is happening within Brainport and the province. It has to have added value,” he explains.
Circularity at Brainport Industries Campus
Karman hopes everyone involved in the high-tech manufacturing industry will want to come to BIC. Whether that is to produce or as a supplier in that production. “We have to work together to make sure that that image comes alive and is visible,” Karman said. “That has to do with dynamics but also with strategic issues.” For example, development needs to look at how the circularity of materials is dealt with and how companies and sectors can be facilitated in this.
Karman: “Energy plays an important role in this. After all, it is a sector that requires a lot of energy. The building of BIC 1 is already energy-neutral. The task is to ensure that companies go along with this as much as possible. If they use energy, how do we keep that minimal, how do we fit that into the grid, how do we keep that flexible? All of these factors are what the COO deals with. Ultimately to attract the best companies and innovation programs that are good for the high-tech manufacturing industry.”
According to Karman, BIC 1 is now running heartily; it is already pretty full. However, he emphasizes that the campus is more than the sum of its parts: “BIC is a building with tenants, each with their activities. If you don’t do anything extra with that, you’re really just talking about exploiting the square meters while we like to talk about the cubic meters: the added value.”
That added value, for example, is in the presence of education. “How nice is it that you are in a building where your future employees are already being trained,” says Karman. “It becomes even more interesting when programs are developed together with the education that also allows those students to already participate in projects at companies. It’s a constant mix. You can live together, and you can do things together. The latter makes it a campus that is more than the sum of its parts. We want to keep that edge in it.”
This sharpness extends to the further area development of BIC. A green, clean and sustainable environment remains one of the priorities. “People learn and work here in a green environment. It’s not a factory where you’re working in overalls with grease on your face. No, this is the factory of the future. You want and can experience that.”
This green experience will be taken to BIC 2 as well. “The province’s nature protection zones will remain in place,” says Karman. “Outside of those, construction will be done so that a ring of green is created.” We are also looking at ways to bring the greenery more inside and make it part of the buildings.” Karman cites atriums and green spaces between buildings as examples. “This will also make it more attractive for residents to ride a bike and experience the combination of green and high-tech.”
Cees-Jan Pen, lecturer at Fontys Hogescholen’s lectorate The Entrepreneurial Region, and Joks Janssen, Professor of Practice at Tilburg University, also emphasize the importance of a green and circular environment. Pen and Janssen are closely involved in the public debate on developing business parks and city centers. They are reasonably optimistic about the development of BIC, although they see room for improvement. “Within the BIC building, there is a lot of attention to circularity and energy use. This could have been reflected a little more in the appearance,” Pen says. “I am thinking of using more landscape elements and greenery.”
From words to deeds
“There are great circular ambitions,” he continues. “Now all that remains is to move from words to deeds. Nice steps have already been taken, and I think there is room for further development.” Pen cites a sustainable mobility plan as an example: “Then people no longer have to go there by car.” Translating the circular ambitions into implementation is essential to Pen.
As far as he is concerned, BIC could experiment more with this: “This is how you find out what it really means to be a circular work location. If the region wants to remain the smartest region, circular showcases are indispensable. That’s the future. So there have to be companies experimenting with that.” Pen is also thinking of offering a certain percentage of cheaper business spaces to give everyone equal opportunities: “There should be room for all kinds of SMEs. That way, a real ecosystem is created.”
Self-sufficient business park
Janssen adds, “From a spatial and sustainability perspective, it is also important to look at minimizing land take while allowing people to benefit from each other’s presence. And if the land is still being seized, it should be as sustainable as possible.”
According to Janssen, circularity and renewable energy play a significant role here. “The aim should be to have a self-sufficient business park well embedded in the local ecosystem. That is still sometimes forgotten.” Janssen points out that there is a great demand for space, particularly in the Brainport region (Eindhoven and Southeast Brabant). “So you also have to ensure that other companies or people nearby see it as a positive development.”
Janssen believes the region could go a step further in this area: “We have a huge housing shortage here, for example. Why not combine living, working, and logistics in a campus-like setting? Precisely because the high-tech manufacturing industry is so clean, that would be possible. We have long since stopped talking about the polluting industry of the past.”
Janssen and Pen certainly like Karman’s ideas and plans for an even greener and more circular BIC 2. They hope that good architects will be brought in to shape the plans. To make the best use of the space, they also recommend that a section be sunken or that the buildings be more elevated. In addition, they see a role in water. Not just water features but water collection.
The latter is already taking place within the area, and such local water storage is also planned for the next phase. Janssen explains the importance of this: “We are facing longer and drier summers. When it rains, it is often peak showers. That water can be collected. The landscape is a pleasant walking decor and has a real function toward climate change and keeping biodiversity in order. That’s where a nice battle could be struck.”