In 2003, five architectural practices were invited to submit plans for the design of Hardenberg’s new town hall. de Architekten Cie were the chosen architects and were commissioned by the Municipality of Hardenberg to execute the project.
“We surprised the committee, because our design proposals clearly stood out from the rest. We interpreted the brief far more freely,” explains project architect Hans Hammink.
Another team was subsequently hired for the detailed design (IAA Architecten from Enschede) whilst the interior design was completed by OTH architecten from Amsterdam. The main objective was to group together the various town services, which were spread over various locations to make them more efficient.
“If you approach everything in a very logical and mathematical manner, your design idea comes close to sculptural abstraction and then everything falls very naturally into place,” underlines Branimir Medić, one of the partners at de Architekten Cie in Amsterdam.
The new town hall brings a modern and fresh look to the eastern province of Overijssel in the Netherlands. Sitting above the low-rise buildings of the past, the structure’s design combines the shapes of a cylinder, a cube and curved ridges, a very unusual combination.
To avoid desperately trying to fit everything in the available space, a three-storey underground parking facility was proposed. The car park is six metres below the ground level and half a storey above the ground, which gives the town hall an elevated appearance. To make the best use of the space, Hardenberg also includes a park and square in the place of the car park.
The inside of the building is spacious with plenty of natural light for the 400 local authority staff that caters for the needs of 60,000 citizens. Two separate oval shaped public information desks sit to the left of the main entrance, which leads to the central chamber that hosts a number of important events.
The layout of the inside of the building is largely devoted to open plan offices with lots of meeting areas and consultation spaces. “Because a round shape is not so practical for an office, the public spaces are on the first two floors,” Hammink explains.
To the left of the entrance, there are two separate oval shaped public information desks. Entry from the main atrium leads to the central chamber where council meetings and marriages take place.
The two-storey council chamber is made up of large glass partition walls, which light up the room and offer wide views. The column-free space is spanned by two 16.20m long concrete beams, which run into the ceiling.
A key feature, which emphasises the scale and length of the room, is the use of American tulipwood slats on the ceiling, on the side walls (identical slats on tulipwood veneered MDF panels of 205/476 x 2,400 x 19 mm) and in the public galleries. The ceiling is equipped with T24 profiles, which are fixed on black panels concealed behind the wood facing and can be easily removed.
The tulipwood ceilings span beyond the council chamber into the adjacent corridor and marriage room in order to emphasise the link between the administrative authorities and the general population.
American tulipwood was chosen as the architects wanted a light timber with exciting character. The light grain of the wood complements the bright interior. The structure has 800 window units dotted around the outer walls forming different patterns.
The external wall cladding in pale yellow glass panels creates smoothness and continuity, making the building appear to be without scale. “I definitely wanted a contrast between the town hall and the surroundings.
In addition to the curved shapes of the wall ridges, the scale of the floors did not need to be immediately visible which gives the building a certain abstraction,” Medić says.
The building was opened in October 2012. It will take some time before the surrounding park, designed by Buro Mien Ruys in Amsterdam, is ready. The green slopes of the park will highlight the relationship between the new development and older buildings.
The access paths to the town hall have been designed for the disabled and the steepest parts will have hedges in various colors and textures. A group of trees will permanently reflect the four seasons and in the early spring, colourful rows of bulb plants will decorate the grassy slopes.
A second atrium along the south facing outside wall is a five-floor winter garden that acts as a continuation of the park. Planted with trees and plants, these spaces are also equipped with floors, stairways, benches, tables and plant tubs made out of a hard bamboo composite.
Location: Stephanuspark 1, Hardenberg
Client: Municipality of Hardenberg (hardenberg.nl)
Design: de Architekten Cie. Amsterdam (up to provisional design plus); IAA Architecten Enschede (i-aa.nl)
Interior design: OTH architecten Amsterdam (oth.nl)
Landscape design: Buro Mien Ruys tuin- & landschapsar chitekten(mienruys.nl)
Structural engineer: Aveco de Bondt Rijssen (avecodebondt.nl); ABT Arnhem (abt.eu)
Contractors: VolkerWessels: Koenen Emmen (koenenbouwemmen.nl)/Goossen Te Pas Bouw Enschede (goossentepasbouw.nl)
Building structural consultant: Adviesburo Nieman Zwolle (nieman.nl)
Interior construction: Gielissen Neos Helmond (gielissen.com)
Timber-frame outer walls: Ter Halle Ahaus-Ottenstein (terhalle.de)
Tulipwood walls/ceilings: Shiluvit Nofisol Oosterhout (shiluvit.com)
Bamboo X-treme: Tonn Nederland Heerenveen (tonn.nl)
Building surface area: 9.000 m2 town hall, 10.000 m2 parking basement
Construction period: December 2010 – September 2012 (Opening: 10 October 2012)
Construction costs: ± € 22.3 million (excl. VAT)
Photo credits: John Lewis Marshall