'Open House for the Community', Research on the 'Bossche School' town hall in Deurne, The Netherlands (1983)
In context of the (re)conversion of the town hall of Deurne to an Open House for the Community, this research provides insights in essential architectonic qualities that define the DNA of this building as a public space. The original project is a coherent example of the 'Bossche School' style, which also means that it is introvert, without connection to the city fabric. The numerous small working spaces proof to be inadequate for new and more dynamic ways of working. Caroline Voet developed the urban concept of 'the urban walk from town square to alley' to open up this introvert building, while strengthening its original features. The design method of Gerard Wijnen and Tom Senders, the original architects of the building of 1973-1983, defined an underlying framework through which the monumentality and human scale were mapped. Basic concepts as 'nearness' and 'superposition' from Dom Hans van der Laan are explained to give an understanding of the spatial coherence of the building. From this blueprint, the concept of 'the open house' as defined by the city council and the new architects can be laid out.
(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 which leads back into the city.
They give a directive backbone the building, a successive path of more open and more intimate spaces between outside and inside.
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.
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/.
For more information on column-spacings, go to: https://domhansvanderlaan.nl/theory-practice/theory/scale-iii-on-the-wall/.
It is at its best when it is treated 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.
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/.
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/
For more information on the Douglas Tartan, go to: https://www.drawingmatter.org/sets/drawing-week/caroline-voet-tartan/.