Health Hub Roden

Health tech innovation playground

September 8, 2020

When the former housing of Health Hub Roden (the Netherlands) didn’t offer sufficient capacity to connect its different users and disciplines, a seemingly anonymous industrial building around the corner offered a solution. With low-key interior elements, a giant hall was transformed into a unique health tech innovation playground: an inviting place to gather and connect people, blending tech, education and business.

Health Hub Roden is centered in the world of health tech and was established to guarantee knowledge and employment in the Province of Drenthe, after the departure of med-tech giant Cordis from Roden. The hub, a triple helix organization, connects businesses, knowledge institutes and government bodies by using its network, finances and knowledge. Furthermore, the hub provides facilities. Professionals and students from technology, healthcare and the medical sector work together in Health Hub Roden towards a common goal: improving quality of life through innovation. This all successfully takes place in its new location, an old industrial edifice that offers enough space and possibilities for a diversity of functions.

Promising brand core

Before the new housing metamorphosed into a health tech hub of 1,600 m2, the aatvos team organized both a one-day workshop as well as a full workshop week. This led to the active involvement of the participating partners in the design process and also to the formulation of the brand promise, which forms the brand core of Health Hub Roden: to be a health tech innovation playground. Creative guide and architect Aat Vos explains, “This project was mainly about ‘organizing informality’. This was achieved by stimulating exploration and offering visibility of ‘what’s going on’ in the hub for its users and visitors. Due to a challenging budget, the interior design features low-key elements and re-used materials. With respect for maintaining certain qualities of the original building – a giant, distinctive hall with stunning arch trusses and light from the North – a unique med-tech destination was created.”

Sea you in the container

Health Hub houses office spaces, seminar rooms, a biomedical Lab, a Makerspace, catering and events. In the bespoke interior design, a lot of attention was paid to the size, interaction and individual principles of these functions. For example, the liveliest activities take place in the middle (center) of the building, where a new entrance has been created. This space is shaped like a ‘small village’ through a well-considered composition of ocean freight containers where you can work, have a meeting or eat lunch inside, outside or on top. The containers divide the area into small and intimate spaces without detracting from the effect of the imposing industrial hall. 

Health Hub Roden has been deliberately designed as a pleasant place to stay, play, create and innovate.

Aat Vos Aat Vos Creative Director at includi

The meeting rooms, Lab and the Makerspace are located around this lively center. All areas are equipped with many windows to emphasize the (visible) open and transparent character of the Health Hub. Additionally, windows in the building’s arches enable a flood of natural daylight; this offsets the classic cool lighting of laboratories, which signals seriousness and seclusion, with openness and warmth. The open-air feeling is also a nod to the playground dynamic of the hub. Office spaces, classrooms and lecture halls that require a more quiet ambience are located a bit further back in the building.

Empty hall full of possibilities

A large grandstand staircase has been installed in the rear hall and the existing mezzanine floor has been expanded. A massive curtain makes the room closable and, for example, suitable for lectures. The almost empty floor of the hall stimulates practical flexibility. For example, an ambulance must be able to enter the space for hands-on medical lessons.
The varying occupancy rate of the halls, as well as the influence of different seasons, required better climate control. This was optimized using double glazing, solar panels and new climate and lighting installations. 

A pleasant place to stay

Health Hub Roden has been deliberately designed as a pleasant place to stay, play, create and innovate. One that you do not directly associate with technology or healthcare – yet with social encounters – based on the idea that you get the most inspiration in your favorite bar or coffee place. An atmosphere with a rough edge that doesn’t feel too “finished” allows and stimulates users to contribute to the development of this hub. Through its genuine character and continual motion, it’s a health tech destination ready to help improve quality of life through innovation.


Project facilitator: Province of Drenthe together with the municipality of Noordenveld.

Health Hub Roden is a co-creation of includi (design concept, strategy, art direction) and MARS Interieurarchitecten (final design, engineering) in collaboration with 20Tree (‘container village’), De Handelsfabriek (interior styling) and Dorst & Partners (project strategy & management).
Photography: Marco Heyda