New City Hall in Nieuwegein
Danish office 3XN have completed the new City Hall and cultural center in the Dutch city of Nieuwegein. Nieuwegein is located five kilometers south of Utrecht, and since 1970 the city has grown from having just 8,000 inhabitants to 62,000 inhabitants in 2012. The strong growth in population makes heavy demands on the city administration to develop the city socially and culturally. "It's a challenge they are very conscious of in Nieuwegein. Therefore we have tried to create a building that can be a catalyst for social affiliation with the city," explains Principal and founder of 3XN, Kim Herforth Nielsen. "It was important for us to create a building that was welcoming, rather than authoritarian in its expression."
Architecturally the building takes its point of departure from a central and bright atrium from where a sculptural staircase rises up through the building and connects the many diverse facilities. By bringing together the local library, citizen service centre, café, cultural center and commercial spaces in the building, the City Hall fuses with a range of everyday activities. The design aims to create life in the building all day, and to strengthen the connection to the commercial and residential area surrounding the building.
The five floors spread out like a fan and open up towards the atrium, allowing the building's visitors and employees to visually connect with what is happening on the other floors. "Daylight contributes to a good working and living environment – it allows one to follow the rhythm of the day and enjoy the small nuances created by the shifting daylight," explains Kim Herforth Nielsen. The building has two facades. The inner is a traditional facade of concrete and glass, while the exterior facade of glass patterned silkscreen almost folds around the building, but without covering it completely. This avoids direct sunlight in workstation areas, while spaces like the lobby and restaurant receive maximum natural daylight and unobstructed views over the city.
Images: Adam Mork