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  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti

Library & Academy of Performative Arts Aalst , Belgien-Aalst/ Belgien

Architektur Wettbewerbs-Ergebnis

wa-ID
wa-2020307
Tag der Veröffentlichung
11.07.2016
Aktualisiert am
27.06.2018
Verfahrensart
Einladungswettbewerb
Auslober
Preisgerichtssitzung
30.06.2016
Fertigstellung
05/2018

Juni 2018 – Fertigstellung des Projekts

Pressemitteilung vom 25.06.2018


KAAN Architecten completes Utopia, a Library and Academy for Performing Arts in Aalst (Belgium)


Utopia, the Library and Academy for Performing Arts, housed within a brand new building designed by KAAN Architecten, has opened its doors to the Flemish city of Aalst, following an open competition launched in 2015 by the City Council. The 8.000 square-meter brick structure incorporates a striking historic building from the second half of the Nineteenth century and rejuvenates the urban landscape while elegantly giving expression to the required functionality.

Taking its cue from Thomas More’s acclaimed book “Utopia”, first printed by prominent Aalst citizen Dirk Martens, the new building has been slotted into the urban fabric to enhance the characteristic irregular streets and intimate spaces of the city center, and to interact with them. Three new squares have been created alongside Esplanadestraat, Graanmarkt and Peperstraat.

The so-called Pupillenschool, a building from 1880 was formerly a school where children of soldiers were educated until the age of 16 when they could register for a regiment. It has been embedded into KAAN Architecten’s design and is now the cornerstone of the new building. Both outside and inside, the historic façades blend perfectly with the generous spaces, while the brickwork dialogues with light gray concrete elements.

Utopia, the city, and its residents are inextricably linked, and can gaze at each other through tall and wide openings, carefully sliced out of the brickwork. The entrance to the building is located on an intimate square between the reading café and the auditorium. Moving through the wide hall, the open interior landscape of the building unfolds from floor to ceiling, and cantilevered into the space are several thick concrete floors that appear to float. Hanging at varying heights, each level features bookshelves and reading tables, while looking into the atrium and towards the brick façade of the pre-existing building. Moreover, a 11.50 meter high bookcase stretches towards the ceiling, filled with books donated by each Aalst resident.

The concrete structures seem to be supported by books. The bookcases are pushed up against concrete discs which allow the floors to cantilever out without extra support. Mimicking the treads, the stairs zig-zag upwards, giving the staircase a sculptural presence at the periphery of the magnificent atrium and reading room. The ceilings have been minimalized to the point of being almost undetectable. All the technical systems are concealed behind a stretched metal-coloured mesh that softens the strong daylight and creates a pleasant atmosphere during the day.

Apart from the ground floor auditorium, the Academy for Performing Arts is housed on the first two floors, flanking the reading atrium. Within the new building, the ballet room, rehearsal studios and teaching spaces have windows as tall and wide as the rooms themselves, providing a view onto the city and a glimpse inwards from the city, while giving expression to the façade composition. Using the same expressive language, the railings of the former Pupillenschool’s windows have been removed and the windowsills of the piano nobile have been significantly lowered.

Acoustics was a fundamental design tool for KAAN Architecten: the reading in the Library should not be disrupted by music lessons and play’s rehearsals. Suspended concrete floors replace the original wooden floors, doors are transformed into sound barriers, and double glazed windows capture each single piano note.

Much of the building’s exterior consists of new brickwork. The predominant colours of the Flemish city were studied and the architects chose a dark brick called “Red Aalst”. To accentuate Utopia’s duality, these long flat bricks (50 x 10 x 4 centimeters) have been laid in horizontal format to complement the vertically-oriented old school façades.

Utopia’s openness also exudes sustainability. The building has achieved an BREEAM Excellent rating: materials and labour were locally sourced, low-energy machines were used for construction, solar panels, geothermal heat and LED lighting have been integrated in the design, rainwater is recuperated and buffered, and 230.000 bricks were chipped away and reused elsewhere.

The desire of KAAN Architecten to interact with the urban fabric has been achieved: Utopia is already a reference point in Aalst city center, with citizens eager to enjoy and welcome a new landmark in their everyday lives



Architect:
Kees Kaan, Vincent Panhuysen, Dikkie Scipio

Project team:
Bas Barendse, Tjerk de Boer, Sebastiaan Buitenhuis, Sebastian van Damme, Paolo Faleschini, Raluca Firicel, Narine Gyulkhasyan, Joost Harteveld, Walter Hoogerwerf, Martina Margini, Giuseppe Mazzaglia, Kevin Park, Giulia Rapizza

Client:
Autonoom Gemeentebedrijf Stadsontwikkeling Aalst (AGSA)

Design phase: March 2016 - May 2018
Construction phase: August 2016 - May 2018

GFA: 8309 sqm + 235 sqm (bike parking)

Main contractor:
Groep Van Roey NV, Rijkevorsel (Belgium)

Advisor construction:
UTIL Struktuurstudies, Schaarbeek (Belgium)

Advisor technical installations:
Studiebureau R. Boydens NV, Brugge Sint-Michiels (Belgium)

Water & electrical installations: Studiebureau R. Boydens NV, Brugge Sint-Michiels (Belgium)

Fire control:
ABT, Delft (Netherlands)

Acoustics:
Tractebel Engineering SA, Brussels (Belgium)

Sustainability:
Studiebureau R. Boydens NV, Brugge Sint-Michiels (Belgium)

  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Gewinner: Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
    Copyright: ©Delfino Sisto Legnani e Marco Cappelletti
  • Site Plan
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Site Plan zoomed
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Site Plan
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Elevation East
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Elevation North
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Elevation South
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Elevation West
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Long Section
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Long Section
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Cross Section
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Cross Section
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Plan floor -1
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Plan floor 0
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Plan floor 1
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam
  • Plan floor 2
    Copyright: KAAN Architecten, Rotterdam

Gewinner

Kaan Architecten, XZ Rotterdam
project team: Bas Barendse, Tjerk de Boer, Sebastiaan Buitenhuis, Sebastian van Damme, Raluca Firicel, Narine Gyulkhasyan, Joost Harteveld, Martina Margini, Giuseppe Mazzaglia, Kevin Park
Wettbewerbsaufgabe
The new complex for the municipal library and the Academy for Performing Arts in the heart of the Flemish city of Aalst will have a lively, urban character. It may sound contradictory, but precisely because the plan of the design by KAAN Architecten is functional, the result is a certain spatial freedom that enriches the experience of the building.
The complex, situated on the corner of Oude Graanmarkt and Esplanadestraat, will be completed in 2018 – a century on from the end of World War I.
The so-called Pupillenschool (once a school for military children), with its grand presence and eventful history, will be integrated as a ‘cornerstone’ to anchor the new complex in the surrounding urban fabric and in the hearts of the people of Aalst. The new part will be two to three times bigger than the existing building. The loadbearing structure of the building’s shell will fully (and economically) coincide with the open layout of the interior. There will be closed spaces created where required for certain activities.
The irregular street pattern of the historic centre of Aalst was a source of inspiration and forms the foundation for the new complex. At various points the streets converge erratically, leaving small open spaces – tiny public squares that dot the old city centre. By inserting a rectangular edifice loosely against the back and part of the side of the Pupillenschool, Aalst has gained two more of such small public squares: one serving as the entrance area for the complex and the other as terrace for the reading café.
Not long ago it was claimed that libraries would become obsolete in the digital age. Indeed, everyone can electronically access any book or document. Yet, contrary to the predictions, it appears that in many places all over the world libraries have blossomed rather than declined. A place for book-borrowing has evolved into a place for public encounters, where people can read, study and linger, spending time somewhere other than at home, school or work. Aalst’s city councillors have understood this development, hence their brief: “A library for Aalst that will become an open and accessible place, a home for information, knowledge, culture and leisure opportunities.”
Other, no less important stipulations included that the design by KAAN would be an impetus for the fulfilment of a vibrant city centre and a place where all of the different communities within Aalst can meet each other.
Apart from the library, the building will house the Academy for Performing Arts with its music, dance, theatre and singing. The combination of a library and arts academy may not at first seem very logical. The performing arts involve movement and noise, while reading is a static and quiet activity. The blending of the two, however, is also infectious and gives greater impact to the idea of a meeting place. KAAN Architecten believes the combination sets them a challenge to design a building that lets each complement the other in an ideal way. Aalst dances, plays and reads – this could be a motto that speaks to the imagination.
With the exception of the existing part that will be incorporated, the complex is free of architectural ornamentation.
But vibrancy is its companion. Windows and skylights that appear to be randomly placed let light in during the day and radiate light at night, which corresponds with the illumination concept devised for the city centre. The windows offer unobstructed views over the sightlines through the building, the pictures of historic prints of Aalst appended to several walls, the shelves of books and the rehearsal spaces for the various performing arts. The complex is not ornamented, but is itself an ornament for the city.
The library will display the printing press of the renowned Humanist Dirk Martens, printer and publisher, who distributed Thomas More’s Utopia in Aalst at the beginning of the 16th century. An image of the fanciful utopia will be represented on an expanse of wall directly behind one of the large windows. The interior will be dominated by wood cladding. Complementing the spaciousness and sightlines traversing the complex, the wooden shelving, floors and wainscotting will achieve a sense of intimacy.

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