“The whole idea of the zones was to heat the people and not the building,” explains the architect. “For instance, all the new meeting rooms are climate controlled, as you would expect in a new building, but there is also a large part of the volume that is not directly heated.”

This means that the temperature inside can range between 15 and 32 degrees, depending on the weather outside. “If you enter a public space and it is cold outside, you’ll have your coat or your scarf with you, and keep it on as long as you move around,” she explains. “But, the moment you find a place to rest of study, there are local measures to heat or cool you depending on the time of year.” Where there are heated areas, the extra warmth produced for these rooms in turn mitigates the hall temperature slightly. “So it’s not that the hall itself has no climate control – it has some, but just not that much,” says Ingrid. “It’s more from the over-capacities and some basic heating around the cafe, for example.”

This smart use of selective heating means that the majority of the building can function as one large space, without the heavy costs that heating such a space would entail. Also, adding a green supplement to this heating, an aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) system pipes warm water from underground.

Textile screening With such a large programme included in the building, it was essential that the staff at the library be able to section off parts of the space. This is achieved by using another one of the most prominent internal design features of the library – a set of ceiling height, mechanised textile screens.

“It started as a strategy to be able to win the competition,” says Ingrid, i.e. one which referenced Tilburg’s well-known former textile industry. The screens were actually created in the city’s textile museum, a short distance away from the library, to a design by Inside Outside. “From the start it was clear that we would do something with textiles,” Ingrid details. “We ended up with six large panels, with a set of three prints so that left and right they are all the same size and configuration.”

These striking screens offer up a range of functional possibilities, visually as well as acoustically screening off sections of the library. For example, they can separate the Seats2Meet area from the higher library



floors, or run across one of the staircases to create a small, semi-private auditorium. Motorised, they are able to move according to programmed settings, which often intrigues users, as Ingrid confirms: “When I’m in LocHal and the textiles are moving, I always see people taking photos or making little films because it’s really impressive; it adds something soft to all the steel, concrete and glass in the environment.”

The next big thing Now completed, the building has proved to be widely successful. “It’s almost moving to see how people use the building,” Ingrid comments. “As a designer, you can think of ways that ‘maybe it can work like this,’ or try to convince people it can – to actually see that it’s used in the way you envisioned, that is really, really great.” The project wasn’t without its challenges however, with the design process taking a year more than the municipality had hoped for. “Because it's an old building,” she reasons, “you don’t know a lot of stuff when you start designing.” Concluding, Ingrid considers the building’s place as what some have dubbed the ‘next big thing’ in public libraries. “Libraries are having to think about their reason to be, and so they are changing their role in society,” she says. “Of course, libraries have been much than just a keeper of books for a long time already – they are about meeting, debating, and producing,” and, perhaps most important of all, “they seem to be one of the last public places in a city where you don’t have pay to be or to spend time.” 

MATERIALS Users are surrounded by a material palette referencing the building’s original nature – a mix of glass and oak, black steel and concrete All images © Stijn Bollaert


Steel structures: Klein Poelhuis Steel window systems manufacturer: Jansen ODS

Steel window systems assembly: Facadis Gevelbouw Steel handrails: Jonkers Bouwmetaal Precast concrete: Mombarg Beton Rooflights: JetBik Wooden indoor window framing: SolarLux

Steel indoor framing manufacturer: Jansen ODS

Steel indoor framing assembly: Staalbouw ter Huurne Glass interior walls: Vitriwand Movable interior panels: Breedveld Paneelwanden Interior contracting: Gieskes


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