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44 PROJECT REPORT: EDUCATION & RESEARCH FACILITIES


A local landmark


Not far from the border with Belgium, Tilburg is Holland’s sixth largest city. It is in one of the former Dutch Railways train maintenance yard’s derelict locomotive sheds – located on the main train station site, and where trains would be serviced – that the LocHal library has found its home.


Being just 100 feet from the station, passers by on one of the country’s major train routes heading towards Rotterdam, would be – and still are – able to see the monumental building, which is a landmark for local residents, though over the years it became uninhabited and run down. The highest and most massive building in the area, the huge shed can be seen from across the city.


LANDMARK


The largest building in the area, LocHal can be seen from across the city


Ingrid van der Heijden, partner at CIVIC Architects, says that when the project team first arrived, the entire maintenance yard “was kind of a hidden city, because you were not allowed to go in unless you worked there.”


Because of its high visibility, she says, “all the people in the city saw it and knew it,” everyone having “a father, brother or neighbour who worked in the area.” Most of the residents however had never actually been there themselves.


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The local municipality bought the land in 2005. According to Ingrid, there were many plans to transform the area, including a variety of public, housing and commercial properties with a number of collaborators. However the global financial crisis in 2008 saw “the whole development of the area stopped.” Eventually, the municipality decided to start developing the land by themselves – beginning with a new public library. Following a competition held in 2014, CIVIC architects started the design process in early 2015, the design team also including Braaksma & Roos architectenbureau, and Inside Outside (Petra Blaisse), with Mecanoo responsible for the fit out. Alongside this team, Arup was the technical consultant for all disciplines.


Imposing & inviting Now, when walking from the station, visitors are presented with the still momentous, but revived building, described by the architects as “both imposing and inviting.”


LocHal has a footprint of 90 x 60 metres, and the building is 15 metres high. However its bulk is offset by a ‘porous’ glazed facade, which invites users in and


ADF JULY 2019


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