LocHal Public Library

LocHal Public Library

Tilburg, Netherlands

Size: 7,000 m2
Status: Completed
Project Design: 2016 - 2018
Project Realisation: 2018
Address: Burgemeester Brokxlaan 66 5041 RP Tilburg
Client: Midden-Brabant Library and Kunstloc Brabant.

Design Team: CIVIC Architects, architectural design; Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau, restoration; Inside Outside in collaboration with the TextielMuseum, interior concept and textiles; Mecanoo, interior design library, labs and offices.

Programme: Mecanoo was responsible for the interior design of the Bibliotheek Midden-Brabant (including the various ‘laboratories’), Kunstloc Brabant and Brabant C in a former locomotive hall of the Dutch National Railways. The interior design comprises 7,000 m2 including 1,300 m2 of offices.

Awards: THE PLAN Award, Interior category, 2019; BNA Building of the Year’19, Liveability & Social Cohesion and the Public Vote Award, 2019; Dutch Design Awards, Habitat category, 2019; NRP Gulden Feniks Award, Category S, 2019; AZ Awards, Adaptive Re-Use, Award of Merit, 2019; Dezeen Awards, Rebirth project of the year, 2019; World Interiors News Awards (WIN Awards), Gold Winner, Learning category, 2019; INSIDE - World Festival of Interiors Award, Creative Re-use category, 2019; Beste Bibliotheek van Nederland 2020 Award; Herengracht Industrie Prijs 2021; shortlisted for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2022.

Photography: Ossip Architectuurfotografie.

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 nearby fairytale theme park Efteling is the source of inspiration for the children's library. Bookcases take on the form of coloured pencils or rulers. Children can walk through giant fairytale books, read at tables shaped like mobile phones or listen to storytelling sessions while lying on an open book. Even the sitting poufs have playful letters in the form of fairytale animals.

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. Specially designed labs can be found throughout the building: the Digilab, GameLab, FutureLab, FoodLab, KennisMakerij (LearningLab), TijdLab (TimeLab), Stemmingmakerij (DialogueLab), WoordLab (WordLab) and workshop rooms.

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