The renovation and conversion of a former locomotive hall dating back to the 1930s in the Dutch city of Tilburg involved a number of architectural studios. The architectural design is by CIVIC architects, the restoration work by Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau, while Inside Outside / Petra Blaisse produced the interior and textile concept, Mecanoo architecten worked on the interior design of the library and offices, and Arup acted as consultant for structural design, technical lighting design and acoustic engineering. These important synergies transformed the old locomotive hall into a contemporary multipurpose cultural and social space. LocHal contains Bibliotheek Midden-Brabant, a public library, Kunstloc Brabant, a regional centre for culture and art, the offices of Brabant C, a regional investment fund for culture and the creative industries, and Seats2Meet co-working spaces.
The key elements of the history of the railways and the textiles industry in the Dutch city of Tilburg are summed up in the interior design of LocHal Library by Mecanoo architecten. A street running right through the building combines historic elements such as a big columns or the railway tracks with new steel and oak elements to create workspaces, workshops and display units for books. The children’s library with its shelves like giant pencils and oversized books is inspired by Efteling, a nearby fairy-tale theme park. A colour palette of reds and oranges helps give the space a highly varied, innovative, playful feel, with a great variety of spaces where people can get together or concentrate on work or teamwork.
The café with its own reading room and exhibition space is definitely the greatest attraction at LocHal, Tilburg’s new living room. Ceramic tiles in the colours red, brown and gold and a big illuminated logo make the bar instantly visible in the huge space of LocHal. The building’s history in the railways re- emerges from the tracks still visible in the floor, used for shunting unusual new "trains": big wooden surfaces assembled on railway cars which can be used as bar tables, or as a catwalk or stage for a show. The facility offers a multitude of possibilities, for when shows are held in the building, the stairs become spectator stands, while the tracks can easily be used to take the surfaces outside and make the plaza outside LocHal into an outdoor theatre. The reading room and exhibition space completing the café are easily visible from outside, bordered by fabric partitions designed by Inside Outside, a reference to the history of the textiles industry in Tilburg which allows the space to be configured in different ways to host a variety of events.
Architect: CIVIC architects www.civicarchitects.eu
Restoration architect: Braaksma & Roos architectenbureau www.braaksma-roos.nl
Interior concept and textiles: Inside Outside and TextielMuseum
Interior design: Mecanoo architecten www.mecanoo.nl
Interior design area: 7,000 m2 (including 1,300 m2 of offices)
Structural / mechanical / acoustic / lighting consultant: Arup, Amsterdam www.arup.com
Client: Bibliotheek Midden-Brabant and Kunstloc Brabant
Location: Tilburg, the Netherlands
Images courtesy of Mecanoo architecten, photo by Ossip Architectuur Fotografie https://ossip.nl/