The LocHal Public Library in Tilburg, the Netherlands, is shortlisted for the prestigious European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2022, granted every two years to acknowledge and reward quality architectural production in Europe.
The LocHal is a new, world-class urban living room for Tilburg in an iconic former locomotive shed of the Dutch National Railways. It is located next to the station, in the heart of Tilburg’s new City Campus, and houses the Midden-Brabant Library, the cultural institutions Kunstloc and Brabant C and the co-working spaces of Seats2meet. The LocHal is a space for both young and old to read, learn, study, meet and gather. It is a place for testing, creating, exhibiting and presenting the latest innovations.
Mecanoo’s playful and innovative interior design forms striking contrasts by combining characteristic historical elements with new oak and steel additions. A colour palette of reds and oranges contributes to a warm atmosphere. There is a diversity of settings for meeting, collaboration, and concentrated work.
The eye-catcher is the city café featuring a bar with red, brown and gold ceramic tiles, crowned with a neon LocHal logo. Old tracks remain visible in the concrete floor, and are used to move three large wheeled “train” tables. A single table can become the extension of the bar or, when combined with another table, forms a stage with the stairs as a tribune. They can also be moved outside to form a stage for outdoor events.
Full-height textile walls, designed by Inside Outside and the Textile Museum, soften the industrial hall. They conveniently divide the space into larger or smaller activity areas. Crossing the building is an interior street lined with historic industrial columns on which the old layers of paint are still visible. By fitting the columns with wooden tables and lighting, they are given a new lease of life as places for reading and studying. The street is flanked by bookcases and more inviting bookshop-style display units.
The Award draws attention to the major contribution by European professionals to the development of new ideas and technologies. At the same time, it offers both individuals and public institutions an opportunity to reach a clearer understanding of the cultural role of architecture in the construction of our cities. Braaksma & Roos and CIVIC architects carried out the architectural design and renovation. The stair landscape that Civic designed for the monumental LocHal takes you to the upper floors. With the flexible oak seating elements, everyone can ‘build’ their own meeting place or quiet working niche. The LocHal is not only a library but also a laboratory where visitors are challenged, gain new knowledge and learn about new innovations.
At each two-yearly edition, the jury selects two works: one that receives the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture in recognition of its conceptual, technical and constructional qualities, and the other that receives the Emerging Architect Special Mention. The jury also selects a set of finalist works to be included in both the Award catalogue and exhibition.
The Prize objectives aim at promoting and understanding the significance of quality and reflecting the complexity of Architecture's own significance in terms of technological, constructional, social, economic, cultural and aesthetic achievements.