The consortium Jongen-Mecanoo-ABT-Dijkoraad has won the contract for the new City Hall of Heerlen. The existing Town Hall of Peutz will be renovated and connected to the new City Hall. Both buildings lie like yin and yang in a new sloping city landscape. The new City Hall will be opened in 2021. The current municipal offices, located a stone’s throw from the landmarked City Hall by architect Frits Peutz, no longer meet requirements and are to be demolished.
This creates the opportunity for an important new building in the city. The design of the characteristic City Hall from 1942 is part of a well-balanced composition with the elegant new Municipal Offices. The buildings radiate a classic, timeless calm within the attractive, green hilly landscape of South Limburg. By making smart use of the topography, a number of functions of the compact Municipal Offices can be placed below ground level.
Here we find the transparent entrance – on the Geleenstraat – which connects the Municipal Offices and the City Hall. From the Raadhuisplein it seems that the new Municipal Offices float above the transparent setback of the mezzanine level. The use of materials expresses a Limburg building tradition; the façade is clad in white bricks and has large facade openings. The façade’s rhythm reflects the classic proportions of the Peutz Town Hall.
The subtle use of materials, the volume and the modest façade rhythm makes the new building respect the context of the Town Hall. The white painted bricks and the natural stone cores are an inversion of the materials used by Peutz. The inside has become outside and the outside becomes inside. To anchor both buildings even more firmly in their context, the surrounding hilly landscape has been extended into the site.
The landscape adds new public space and reinforces the civic character of the complex. This makes it possible to enter the Roman Quarter via the green public space around the Municipal Offices by means of a high-quality route to the central shopping area in the Centre. Moreover, the opportunity arises for the adjoining buildings and gardens to be refurbished and thereby give the entire area an extra quality.
The project symbolises the positive regeneration that the city of Heerlen is currently enjoying and will remain as an emblem of the city’s optimism. Alderman Nico Aarts: “The design is a gift to the citizens and our employees who finally have the prospect of a fascinating new accommodation. I am proud of the outcome of this successful and innovative, tender process”. Source and images Courtesy of Mecanoo.
Article by Marco Rinaldi