Latitude/Longitude: 51.4974, 3.62448
Quality Atlas 2030’ aims to give direction to three building projects within and outside the town of Middelburg. The new town hall, constructed in 2002/2004, offers space to the municipal services for different and increased cooperation, restores the visual link between two neighbourhoods and enlivens an empty quayside. Middelburg, in all its historical charm: with a town charter since 1217 and fifth in terms of listed monuments in the Netherlands. During the Golden Age (17th century) Middelburg was surpassed only by Amsterdam. Middelburg aspires to put itself back ‘on the map’ in the 21st century. A canal, a railway line and between them a road: the underdeveloped ‘railway zone’ bisected Middelburg, cutting off the old town centre from the quarter to the south. ‘Quality 2030’ sets its targets high: the station area is to be transformed into a lively linking zone.
The lateral thrust on the structures above the upper storeys gives the building a visual connection to areas of town on both sides of the canal. The ends of the building to northwest and southeast are correspondingly narrow, echoing the proportions of the small station. This also directs the eyes of council employees: all eyes follow the same course, a single perspective on the whole town.
Outdoor spaces, unavailable in the vicinity due to lack of space, are housed in within the building. Apart from the rooftop gardens, there are large openings in the façades which provide a view of the small groups of trees growing above the underground garages. In the basement storey, above the underground garage with its 250 parking spaces, are all the main facilities.
The main entrance with its connecting foyer is located centrally on the first floor, with an additional source of daylight from above. It is accessible from the east side via a shallow ramp, and from the west side via stairs. The citizens’ foyer, positioned on the first floor, offers a view of both parts of the town. The various departments are situated in the office towers of different heights which project from between the rooftop gardens, which will in future also be rented out for various purposes.
The site itself was a challenge to the planning and execution of the building; it was without surrounding space for the necessary support infrastructure and hemmed in between the railway line and the canal path on one side and the canal itself on the other side. During a basic construction phase lasting only months, 6.000m2 of ecologically treated facing concrete façade elements was delivered, working to the “just in time” principle, as storage was impossible on the building site.
A network of pipes in the concrete roofing provided all rooms with warmth or cooling as needed. Human and machine generated warmth was included in calculations for this. By combining heat and cool storage, using two water containers at a depth of 70m, it was possible to keep energy consumption for heating and ventilation to an absolute minimum.
The building produces most of its energy requirement itself by means of photovoltaic solar cells on the sloped roof producing 100,000 kWh. Fitted wood blinds protect from direct sun exposure. Cement core cooling/heating is used in maintaining comfortable temperature.
The administration centre and the offices of the water authority neighbouring it are connected via their underground parking garages. The wood planking and concrete gratings of the roof allow the entry of air and daylight.
The potential for alternative use was an important part of the sustainability criteria for the building. The town hall’s towers are suitable to be used as a housing development, while its foundation storey is suitable for shops and small businesses.
⇒ Architecture Guide to MIDDELBURG