'Open House for the Community', Research on the 'Bossche School' town hall in Deurne, The Netherlands (1983)

— 2020, The Netherlands
200608 Deurne presentatietekening cutout

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.

200608 Deurne presentatietekening test kleur
The ground floor of the town hall as an 'urban walk', from town square to alley (from left to right as seen on the drawing). Three central spaces are defined as hinging points:
(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.
Foto 5 03 2020 12 51 41
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.
Deurne analyse CELLA
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/.
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/.
Deurne analyse GEVEL centrale huis
The second hinging point is the 'central house'.
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.
Foto 5 03 2020 13 30 12 bewerkt
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 within 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.
Deurne analyse VLEUGELS
Several schemes are developed to study the 'opening up' of the work floors, which are now divided into small offices.
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/.
Deurne analyse GANGPAD
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/
200318 Deurne tartan
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/.