A public library in Tilburg, The Netherlands, which was built in a converted industrial facility, has been named 2019’s World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival held in Amsterdam on December 4-6th. Designed by Civic architects (lead architect), Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau and Inside Outside / Petra Blaisse, LocHal was a former locomotive hangar dating from 1932, and was transformed into a public meeting place and new library typology.
“This project transformed a significant building which had been planned for demolition. The result has created a physical facility in which a variety of users can meet for a variety of purposes, in this sense the building has become a social condenser. It celebrates and exploits local traditions of textile manufacture and it has an environmental strategy aimed at heating and cooling people, not the building. It provides spaces of very different scales to provide both communal and more intimate uses,” noted the super jury.
The library capitalises the existing structure, thereby greatly minimising the amount of new structural elements, while also providing ample opportunity for interaction and the creation of new knowledge. The building houses amenities shared by the library, arts organisations and co-working facilities. In addition to areas for lectures and public events, the building also has a number of ‘labs’ where visitors can learn new skills.
The hall is crowned for its cross-fertilization between architecture and the urban landscape, in the broadest sense of the word. “In its short existence, the LocHal is already an international example for new urban public programs, where gathering, learning, working, culture and residences merge into new urban places,” the jury praises the project in its report. “The way in which a building of this size is logically designed commands great respect.”
“Impressed by the spaciousness, the monumental emptiness and the enormous size of the LocHal, the design team realized that the LocHal is more than a building; it is a part of the city that with its heavy construction, which is getting lighter upwards, provides a fantastic spatial experience. That is how the idea arose to connect the industrial hall with the city as one continuous urban fabric. From the outset, this required an integrated approach by the architect team, reflecting on each other, innovative in concept thinking, with an eye for the context: dreams with a sense of reality.” Say the lead architects.
In the meantime, the LocHal is not only embraced by the people of Tilburg. The municipality has also made a major gesture by measuring the building’s status as a municipal monument.