Town Hall, Krimpenerwaard
The board of Krimpenerwaard municipal council knows all too well that the current approach to construction needs to change, and the sooner it does the better. This conviction runs through every aspect of their brief for the new town hall, which sets out ambitious goals regarding energy neutrality and circular design. The brief was part of a Europe-wide tender competition, which the joint team of Ector Hoogstad Architects and DOOR architects won with a design concept that’s not only rooted in sustainable principles, but also optimizes the health and well-being of the building’s users and visitors and connects them with nature by default.
Name Krimpenerwaard Town Hall
Client Municipality of Krimpenerwaard
Current phase Design
A landscape of ribbon fields
The municipality of Krimpenerwaard was created in 2015 from the merger of five older municipalities: Bergambacht, Nederlek, Ouderkerk, Schoonhoven and Vlist. The landscape around the proposed site of the town hall is characterised by vast green pastures under the sort of wide-open skies for which the Netherlands is known. These low-lying flat plains consist of narrow strips of land separated by countless ditches, and stretch as far as the eye can see, forming what the Dutch call "a landscape of ribbon fields".
Inspired by these features, EHA and DOOR produced a design comprising three buildings of equal size, each occupying its own ribbon field, so to speak, and connected to the adjacent building by a conservatory. Thus, running in a straight line through the three buildings is a vast central passageway, forming a public space and reception area in which council staff and visitors can interact and, respectively, provide and receive civic services such as renew a driving licence. Located around this space are workstations and meeting rooms offering peace and quiet for tasks or interactions that require concentration or privacy. The three buildings are crowned by identical, energy-generating gabled roofs that complete the cohesiveness of the design, enhance the modernity of its appearance, and pay homage to the traditional architectural language of the region.
Powered by nature
To minimise the town hall’s environmental impact, the building will be constructed almost entirely of wood, be natural gas-free, and carbon- and energy-neutral. It will also be as demountable as possible, and, of course, nature-inclusive and climate-adaptive. Work is already underway to determine how much of the building can be constructed from reclaimed wood.
Clear-glass façades will ensure plenty of natural light reaches the interior and allow unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape. The building’s proximity to nature will be such that you’ll be able to amble over to the adjoining nature reserve in minutes, or a bit longer if you feel like taking a detour along the network of unpaved paths that surround the town hall. The landscape design is informed by features of the surrounding landscape, with various sections devoted to local flora and fauna, and we are currently researching the use of the local species of bulrush as a raw material in the production of bio-based building materials for future projects.
This process of working with nature allows us to create a building and environment that not only works at a functional level — accommodates town hall activities, promotes interaction and movement, etc. — but does so in a sustainable way by, among other things, mitigating the health effects of extreme heat, conserving water and stimulating biodiversity.
Our design concept received the municipal council’s stamp of approval in March, 2023, as did our implementation budget. This means we can now proceed to the final design and move a step closer to making the new town hall a reality. The development process will include a series of workshops with municipal representatives and employees and local residents, in which we will solicit input on matters of accessibility, sustainability and general well-being in order to ensure that we deliver a town hall that meets everyone’s needs and is as health-affirming and central to life in Krimpenerwaard as the surrounding landscape.