Bocholt is a rural municipality surrounded by open fields, streams and extensive areas of woodland. The new multifunctional building, called “The Stone”, combines several functions (youth room, multipurpose hall, academy, harmony and the leisure and tourism department of the town) previously scattered over various places in Bocholt. The implementation of this project was used to revalue the town hall and its surrounding public domain. In all modesty and on a small scale, the design addresses the relation between architecture and urban design, between built volume and open space. It subtly appears above and in between the surrounding constructions and functions as a signal visible from various locations around the town.
The building itself is conceived as a very compact and massive volume in a shimmering dark brown brick. The added white volumes and window frames accentuate this stately appearance. The main volume refers to the unusual typologies of some remarkable buildings located in the town center: the brewery, the Biotechnicum and the old dairy. It consists of a stack of 4 levels each with a different height depending on the function they house. This stacking is visible in the facades by small jumps in the masonry and the use of wider joints.
The office of municipal leisure and tourism department and the large multipurpose room are located on the ground floor, connected to the youth café in the wooden extension. The upper floors are used for the classrooms of the Academy for Word, Music and Image and for the village choir and brass band. The roof volume has a meeting place with a kitchenette, and gives access to the rooftop terrace which offers panoramic views towards the town and its surroundings.
The use of the building obtains maximum flexibility by offering a range of rooms with different sizes and uses. The light intermediate walls allow the organization of the spaces to be changed on the long term. The acoustic conditions were an important requirement for this building. The central location required a very good acoustic insulation to the surrounding residential buildings. The most acoustically demanding spaces were conceived according to the box-in-box principle: a structurally completely independent volume that buffers the sound.
Inside, the use of materials was derived from the constructive build-up. In the circulation spaces the structural elements are kept visible: white painted concrete masonry, dark brown polished concrete floor, stairs in brown pigmented concrete and concrete ceilings.
The (class-) rooms have a warm and intimate atmosphere created by the wooden walls and curtains which contribute to the ideal absorption of sound necessary for a music academy.
The brickwork refers to the material used in surrounding buildings: the local brewery, the dairy and two schools show this particular dark brown brick as a notable element of the area. The new building endorses this tradition and at the same time counters it using a slightly enamelled and large format version of the brown brick.
The uniform use of brickwork for the main volume stresses the monolith character and robustness of the building. By differing texture, depth and width of the joints, the visual stacking of the levels and functions in the facades is strengthened. It helps bringing the building down to the scale of the village, the surrounding buildings and the users. Through aging the differences between the joints will increase and the expression of the stacked ‘arcades’ will become more distinct.
total surface: 1275 m2
volume: 7450 m3