Research of the town hall in Deurne, the Netherlands, a building by Gerard Wijnen and Tom Senders, 1973-1983
— 2020, The Netherlands
In context of the (re)conversion of the town hall of Deurne to an Open House for the citizens, this research provides insights and foundations in the design method of Gerard Wijnen and Tom Senders, the original designers of the building in 1973-1983. With size schemes they designed repeathing rhythms in a classical way, referring to the Bossche School style. Furthermore, mutual layers and 'shifts' give the building dynamism. After all, the walk through the town hall is not a straight axis with symmetries.
A walk through the town hall, from town square to alleyway (from left to right as seen on the drawing). Three connecting points are set:
(1) the entry hall: connecting point towards the town square,
(2) the 'central house': connecting the atrium and the courtyard,
(3) the staircase tower: connecting the courtyard and the alley behind.
They give direction in the walk through the building, from inside to outside space, as a continuation of a walk to the heart of the village.
The town hall, although very large, has a human scale. You can easily feel 'at home' there.
This is because each space is linked to smaller spaces that bring them back to that human scale. For example, the atrium is surrounded by a gallery. This has been designed with the size of a 'cella', the personal space around one person. This is about your own length projected outwards. Dom Hans van der Laan consciously deployed this from the relation
mass : space = 1 : 7.
In this way this 'intimacy' is tangible in a natural way. That first 'cella' that everyone crosses in the town hall of Deurne is therefore very important.
For more information on the cella, go to: https://domhansvanderlaan.nl/theory-practice/theory/scale-i-inside-and-outside/.
The atrium, the inside that is an outside.
This central space works like a square. It is pleasant because of the surrounding gallery, which is on a human scale. This space is at its best when it is 'empty', so it can be 'occupied' in different ways, just like a real square. It is a 'resting place', possibly with some mobile furniture such as robust street furniture.
Different compositions of column-spacings with clearly delineated rectangular open and closed parts can be noted through the town hall of Deurne.
For more information on column-spacings, go to: https://domhansvanderlaan.nl/theory-practice/theory/scale-iii-on-the-wall/.
The second connecting point is the 'central house'.
As an autonomous volume, it forms a link between the atrium and the inner courtyard.
The volume and rhythm of the facade gives scale to this courtyard.
Facade decomposition: window openings towards the courtyard.
To the left and right of the 'walk from village square to alleyway' are two long wings of three storeys each, where the workplaces are located. Towards the street, the wings are pronounced as autonomous blocks by means of deeper slots. These give rhythm and scale, so that the town hall fits in nicely with the urban fabric of the small streets around it. Towards the inside, however, the potential of these zones has not been exploited for the transformation into an 'open house': these slots can be developed more as open, dynamic contact points between the quieter and more orderly spaces of the wings with workplaces.
We can speak of 4 blocks or 4 'houses', each with 3 floors for offices.
Each floor has 6 to 8 bays of 360 cm, with on most floors a central aisle.
The central aisle is completely planned according to the principles of the
plastic number, the proportions 3 : 4 and 1 : 7 return.
For more information on the Plastic Number, go to: https://domhansvanderlaan.nl/theory-practice/theory/the-plastic-number-ratio/.
Research for spatial superposition: a balancing act between open and closed parts of the central aisle. Dom Hans van der Laan placed rather open column-spacings alongside a closed wall to open a gallery in a certain direction. Each time he chose from the options on the left, thus composing the relationship open / closed.
From: Voet, Caroline, "Dom Hans van der Laan. A House for the Mind. A design manual on Roosenberg Abbey", Antwerp: VAi Publishers, p.134-135
For more information on column-spacings, go to: https://domhansvanderlaan.nl/theory-practice/theory/scale-iii-on-the-wall/
The tartan of Deurne, after analysing all existing rhythms of the column-spacings, window-arrangements, bays, thickness of walls, etc.
For more information on the Douglas Tartan, go to: https://www.drawingmatter.org/sets/drawing-week/caroline-voet-tartan/.