Seahorse Hengelo

From then to now

Thinking about Twente, the textile industry comes to mind. The region is well known for its textile production, which started here in the nineteenth century. For example, near the city centre of Hengelo, there used to be the Seahorse Textile Factory, a weaving mill where fabrics, especially bath towels, were produced. At this precise location, a unique sustainable housing estate, developed by VanWonen, is now being built. What is the story behind the Seahorse location? 

From 1951 to 2008, this area between the streets Deldenerstraat and Geerdinksweg was the location of the textile mill Koninklijke Weefgoederen Fabriek (KWF), better known as Seahorse Hengelo. In countless Dutch households, the towels of the brand Seahorse were used to dry oneself off after a bath. They were produced here until 1972. After that, the factory closed its doors and other companies moved into the building.

Real post-war architecture
The textile mill was designed by architect H.W. van Lelyveld of architectural firm Beltman in Enschede. The design was typical of the architecture that emerged just after the Second World War, the period of rebuilding. In this period, many saw-tooth roofs were installed: semi-circular structures that could span a large factory hall. In 2008, the premises of the textile mill were demolished, except for the four characteristic saw-tooth roofs, and after a zoning plan change in 2018, the site became available for the new housing estate Seahorse Hengelo.

A nod to the industrial past
Tom Munter, development manager at VanWonen, has been involved in the development from the start. He explains: “We asked the prospective buyers what type of architecture they would like to see in this neighbourhood. The answer was unanimous: it had to refer to the industrial past. That’s why we have incorporated a lot of brick, steel trusses, robust concrete slabs and unique roof shapes.”

Reuse and sustainability
The original saw-tooth roofs have been reused in four remarkable loft style homes. But the reuse of materials did not stop there: some of the debris from the demolished factory has been used to make a base layer for the streets in the area. Recycling to the max! This is perfectly in keeping with the sustainable character of Seahorse. All homes are energy-neutral and the neighbourhood will be landscaped with many trees, flowers and other vegetation. Bioswales have been designed for the water management in the neighbourhood.

The first 110 homes are expected to be completed in 2022.

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