In our new city hall for Groningen, we put meeting and interaction centre stage, creating an environment where citizens and city staff can easily encounter and talk to each other. Structuring our design around two large, light and open atria with indoor gardens makes the building intrinsically sociable, contributes to the flexible layout, and encourages new ways of working.
City of Groningen
A welcoming, functional and flexible place for employees and citizens and the most sustainable office building in the Netherlands – these were the ambitious requirements of the city of Groningen for its new 17,000 m² council building on the Harm Buiterplein. We translated the brief into a carefully designed, innovative city hall featuring large, open spaces complete with indoor gardens, forming a relaxing, naturally lit inner landscape.
The larger atrium on the east side of the building is open to the general public, and so forms the city council’s public face. Lit by daylight and featuring an indoor garden, the atrium is a bright, friendly space for both office staff and city people. There are various places to meet, including information desks and consulting rooms. We carefully placed these meeting areas so as to limit additional security measures to a minimum, to preserve the building’s approachable character.
“This building is a pleasant meeting place for city people and council employees. Designed for flexible working, it is unusually sustainable. It is an asset to the city and a place to be proud of.” -Alderman Ton Schroor, Groningen City Council (Personnel & Organisation).
On the west side of the building, the second atrium is smaller and intended as a meeting place and lunch area for city staff. Like the larger atrium, it introduces abundant daylight and greenery into the building, creating a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere and encouraging interaction.
The brief from the city of Groningen called for a high level of flexibility and sustainability – which naturally led us to some innovative solutions. One of these involved using a new type of hollow-core concrete flooring. This meant that we could create greater column-free spans, meaning that large meeting rooms could be realised more easily. In addition, integrating systems into the hollow-core flooring means that technical adjustments can be made if the spatial layout is changed.
The brief called for a high level of flexibility and sustainability
Our flexible design concept ensures that the building easily unites its functions – private offices plus public and semi-public spaces – under one (partly glass) roof, and that it will be able to adapt to any future developments in organisation and operation. The layout was inspired by new work-style concepts. In our design, activity-based workspaces are spatial building blocks that can be moved, mixed and matched throughout the building’s overall grid.
The layout was inspired by new work-style concepts