Completion: Tender cancelled
Program: Office, parking, restaurant, meeting rooms
Size: 10.000 m2
Partners: Hollands Groen BV
Image credits: Scofo / reA
The main extension of the city of Haarlem is so-called Schalkwijk, to the south of the old city. Schalkwijk has a typical layout of housing neighbourhoods organised around a shopping center. In between the neighbourhoods and two main access roads a service area is located, with an hospital, the former communal telecom services and taxoffices. For one of the tax-offices a tender was published, investigating the possibilities for transforming the outdated structure into a modern and attractive office, for a limited budget.
For reA this starts with a thorough research of the qualities of the original architecture. The architecture may not have a capital A, that doesn’t mean that it lacks qualities that are worthwhile, and that can support the present ambition. Using these qualities, re-interpreting them, makes a thorough upgrading much more sensible and feasible.
The original design, by Van Gool, has a defensive, introverted character. The office windows are set at an inward angle. At the same time this adds a positive ‘humanscale’ to the floorplan, with the clover shaped interior spaces. Thus, maximising the amount of glass would simply improve the relation between in- and outside, without losing the clover. The ground floor is especially defensive with a lot of concrete in facade and plinth. Here is called for a more drastic approach. Within the logic of the loadbearing structure of the existing facade, the ground floor facade is emptied of concrete slabs. The complete perimeter of the building becomes fully transparant, allowing an intense connection between the surroundings and the restaurant, meeting rooms and entrance hall on the inside. These surroundings are presently characterised by concrete, tarmac, cars and artificial looking green spots. Changing this into a luscious green landscape, with a multitude of trees, a big diversity of plants, green balconies, rain water infiltration including a wadi, will take the quality of the project to a much higher level, for the users and for the environment.