In 1967 Hugh Maaskant (1907-1977), 60 years old at the time, was chosen by his Dutch peers as one of the best designers in the Netherlands. This was enough to ensure his place on the list of great Dutch architects. The Provinciehuis of North-Brabant, completed in 1971, was by then his most controversial building.
It was considered at the same time Maaskant’s magnus opus and an example of representative architecture of a totalitarian and hierarchical way of thinking. Critiques to his architecture came together with a period of call into question of modernism, already looking forward to the Postmodern movement.
Nowadays Maaskant’s work is once again appreciated and seen as an inspiration by new generations of architects, and more than 20 buildings are now monuments. And also the controversial Provinciehuis is expected to be declared national treasure when it reaches the required age of 50 in 2021. It is unlikely that this would have surprised Maaskant.
The Provinciehuis of North-Brabant is located South-East of the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, capital of the province of North Brabant (The Netherlands), and is surrounded by the water landscape of the Zuiderplas and the motor landscape of E25. The building, originally designed in the Seventies by Dutch architect Hugh Maaskant, was initially unpopular because too expensive and too big.
Now after forty years, the Provinciehuis has become a symbol of active public service and its eighteen storey tower a striking landmark of the Brabantse landscape. The building shows a perfect balance between the horizontality of the public and representative plinth and the elevation of the office tower.
Both volumes are raised one floor above the ground level to house the parking area, symbol itself of the modern industrial nature of the concrete architecture. The strong character of Maaskant’s architecture speaks through generous spaces highlighted by grand gestures and small details promoting interaction between politicians, administrators, civil servants and citizens.
This interaction was gradually lost overtime. The challenge of the renovation project was in the correct reading of the original spatial quality of the plan, in freeing the plinth from the security barriers and in updating the building to the contemporary needs. KAAN Architecten works in accordance with Maaskant’s interpretation, yet with a personal approach.
The central hall is now permanently accessible; the Statenzaal and the Bois Le Duc Hall are also accessible when in session. The main entrance area opens up to all three levels of the horizontal plinth and houses a curved staircase to the parking floor, a coffee bar and the imposing stairway to the first floor assembly hall.
Offices are located in the longitudinal walls behind the original glass bricks and lights. In the office tower the rooms are replaced by a flexible working space and are clustered in three floors each. Every cluster is provided with open and closed working space: 8 workplaces for 10 employees to emphasize the dynamics of the new work environment.
Vertical circulation is streamlined, lifts stop every three floors and two flights of stairs serve each independent cluster. On November 3rd 2015 Vincent Panhuysen, KAAN Architecten’s partner, received a medal of merit from the Commissioner of the King, Wim van de Donk, for the special and careful guidance in the renovation of the Provinciehuis of North-Brabant. Source by KAAN Architecten.
Location: Brabantlaan 1, 5216 TV ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
Architects: KAAN Architecten
Project Team: Dennis Bruijn, Paolo Faleschini, Raluca Firicel, Chiara Gramaccia, Marlon Jonkers, Kees Kaan, Jan Teunis ten Kate, Lorenzo Meschini, Hannes Ochmann, Vincent Panhuysen, Dikkie Scipio, Joeri Spijkers
Main Contractor: Stam + De Koning Vastgoed en Bouw
Construction Advisor: Advies- en Ingenieursbureau van de Laar
Technical Installation Advisor: DWA
Building Physics, Fire Control and Acoustics: Peutz bv
Landscape: MTD Landschapsarchitecten
Area: 28000.0 sqm
Photographs: Sebastian van Damme, Courtesy of