Built in 1960 to serve as a temporary town hall, after which it was used for many years as a workshop and studio, the structure is now being converted into a residential building. Intriguing though the original building’s modernist, no-nonsense appearance may be, in spatial terms the building does little to improve the attractiveness of this part of the city centre. There lay our challenge: to retain the building’s DNA, and thus the post-war reconstruction character of the southern part of the city centre, and to design a second reconstruction that delivers a quality boost for Arnhem.
This conversion project is no isolated redevelopment. A large number of office buildings in this part of the city are being turned into or replaced by residential buildings. This building is currently flanked on one side by Broerenstraat and on the other by a parking deck. At the express wish of the client, this enclosed character was ignored and an all-round building created with apartments on all sides. This anticipates the planned redevelopment of the immediate surroundings into an attractive residential environment. Although the architecture effectively steals a march on the spatial planning here, it does so in full consciousness of the responsibility of all parties to work towards a better and more resilient city.
Steel and glass
The original building consists of a steel structure, ranging from the huge steel trusses on the ground floor to elegant steel connecting bars on the upper floors. Taking its cue from this, the new elevation is made entirely of steel. This, together with the distinctive horizontal windows, lends the building a modernist, post-war reconstruction character, but adds a residential function in the form of balconies. The existing timber ceilings, together with several other timber elements, will be reinstalled, thereby reinforcing the residential character of the building.
commission: redevelopment of former town hall into apartments and commercial spaces | location: Arhnem | client: Van der vorm Vastgoed bv | project management: Colliers International | structural engineer: Aveco de Bondt | Acoustics and building consultant: Kompas Raadgevende Ingenieurs | fire safety consultant: Kompas Raadgevende Ingenieurs | building services consultant: Kompas Raadgevende Ingenieurs | program: apartments and retail spaces | floor area: 6.800 m² | design: 2017 | completion: 2019