The identity of a village centre is often defined by a single building that characterises the overall appearance. In the small village of Noorderwijk, that role is taken by the former town hall, which was later redesignated as a village hall and library. Its main features are the warm and welcoming outer shell clad with wine-red clay tiles and the strong contrast this forms with the glass extension.

Project details

Project
Conversion of the old town hall in Noorderwijk, Belgium
Architect
Ontwerpbureau Bert Gebruers – Peter Jannes bvba, Olen 
Client
The City of Noorderwijk
Building envelope
Koramic Pottelberg 301 Plain Tile, wine red glazed
 

Library in Noorderwijk © Goetschalckx Liesbet

Library in Noorderwijk © Goetschalckx Liesbet

Library in Noorderwijk, Belgium © Goetschalckx Liesbet

Library in Noorderwijk, Belgium © Goetschalckx Liesbet

Library in Noorderwijk, Belgium © Goetschalckx Liesbet

Library in Noorderwijk, Belgium © Goetschalckx Liesbet

An archetypical architectural form,

The town hall lost its original function when Noorderwijk was merged with the nearby town of Herentals. While efforts were made to find a new role, the premises were temporarily used as changing rooms for the municipal environmental services and as occasional office for the district policeman. After a thorough analysis of options and requirements, the local authorities decided to convert and expand the former town hall to provide a village hall and municipal library. Additionally, the designers had to integrate a number of parking spaces for vehicles of the local Red Cross and the municipal environmental services.
 
The job was awarded to the Bert Gebruers - Peter Jannes design studio. At a very early stage the architects decided that the village hall function would be taken on by the existing premises. Key features of the building are its archetypical architectural form, the large volume, the simple load-bearing structure and the distinctive symmetrical layout, with the stairwell in the centre and a number of rooms on both sides. The building’s structure was ideal for laying out separate rooms for a music school, for instance, meeting rooms or a social welfare centre.

The monolithic look

Quite a number of changes were necessary to get the stately old building ready for these new functions. The building was insulated, all the exterior joinery was replaced and the wooden joists replaced with hollow-core concrete elements. The load-bearing walls remained intact.
 
The wine-red glazed tiles that the village hall is completely clad with strengthen the impressive appearance of the building. The architects emphasise that “finishing the roof and walls with the same material gives a building a monolithic look and a powerful appearance”. On top of that, they accentuate the contrast with the transparent cuboid of the new structure that runs perpendicular to the town hall, parallel with the street. The section where the existing and new volumes come together has been cleverly laid out as the common entrance with an area for sanitary facilities.

Sustainability – a relevant aspect

The architects also focused on sustainability issues. As energy consumption was one relevant aspect, a tiled façade proved advantageous: “A wall cladding using clay tiles makes it easy to insulate the existing building”, the architects reasoned their choice of material. Moreover, they also drew on the repertoire of sustainable building services: a heat pump and condenser boiler for heating, a solar boiler for hot water, a ventilation system with heat recovery for the library and the village hall, slatted blinds to keep the sun out and control the temperature, the maximum amount of natural light combined with energy-efficient lighting controlled by sensors, and a rainwater collection system. These choices were much appreciated by local associations, because they will undoubtedly encourage the creation of lasting social contacts.

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