Delft Media Library
"The Hoogovenpand as we found it was an office building with living apartments, characterized by an architecture typical of the '70s, with heavy concrete roof elements and grayish stones," says van der Pol. "Its outward appearance didnt fit in with the ideas of the urban development supervisor, AWG."
The building's shell offered great flexibility, however, so the architects retained it. Although the facade was demolished and a new front built, the original construction is still visible inside.
Library of Light
The DOK Library contrasts contemporary and traditional materials. Huge glass window bays emerge from a traditional orange-colored brick facade over a dark brick plinth with stone details. A new glazed entrance structure three stories high was erected two meters (6.6 feet) in front of the existing structure. With stairs housed inside it, and library functions visible beyond, the glass box creates a dynamic presence on the adjacent public square.
"The idea was to create a building that would fit in with the historical architecture of Delft," van der Pol says, "while showing the ultramodern functions of the media library."
The main architectural intervention is a wide multistory atrium that spans the full length of the building. Cutting a void into the existing structure allowed the transmission of light into the heart of the building and strong visual connections between floors and functions.
Color and light characterize the library. The architects defined each department with distinctive lighting and design elements.
In the green youth rooms, bookcases have been arranged to evoke the Manhattan skyline. There's also a children's reading "arena" and a toddler's corner. The romance section comprises red-lit spaces spread over several rooms. The art department — where patrons can check out works of art to take home — looks like a long, gray metal block with large walls. The brown music and film area includes a lounge.
The purple administrative offices contain several meeting rooms, work stations for concentration, and a separate smoking room, all surrounding an open area of large, informal work islands.
An orange services core provides a touch-point for orientation, with yellow information counters nearby on each floor, while the "information square" on the ground floor is blue. A white polyurethane floor provides a neutral backdrop for all the color.
Vos designed a variety of lively furnishings for the spaces. In some places, bookcases serve as section dividers.
The building renovation was environmentally friendly on several fronts. Foremost was the preservation of the building's core structure. Also, there are water-saving toilets, an energy-saving elevator, extensive daylighting, and individual metering of water and energy so all occupants can track their usage. The building is also well insulated with high-performance materials, and a building services control system helps optimize energy usage.
The variety of functions at the Hoogovenpand — multimedia library, offices, apartments, retail shops, and bicycle parking — made it a challenging project. The architects sought to meet the needs of the various user groups even beyond the specifications of the project.
"We put a lot of time and effort into the communication, into analyzing the functionality," recalls Vos. "We had a lot of meetings with the different users and listened to their wishes."
The design team consulted with residents of the building from the beginning of the design process, seeking suggestions for how the apartments could be improved as part of the renovation. "This could take shape in providing for a larger living area, for instance," says van der Pol.
"We were designing by investigation," adds Vos. "Only after that did we make plans and designs."
Their thoughtful planning seems to have paid off. "We are very happy that it is functioning so well now," Vos says. "It is an amazing feeling to see that the building is used that much and by so many people in such a natural fashion."
The library succeeds as a modern community center within the revamped Hoogovenpand, exemplifying a freshness achieved through adaptive reuse.
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Jennifer LeClaire is a freelance writer based in Hallandale Beach, Florida, specializing in architecture and design. More by Jennifer LeClaire