The urban design concept elaborates on and further develops the original approach, as presented in the architectural competition. We understand the Town Hall in Leopoldov as a complex consisting of the original building converted into a municipal library, and the new building, integrating all the required functions and the public space in between and around the two buildings. The Town Hall is therefore not just a singular building, but it is a „destination“ in its own right, within the city.
St. Ignatius Square represents a vaguely defined plaza – a park. Having its own unquestion- able qualities, it lacks an explicit urban character. The original building will remain, supplemented by a linear, two-storey building located parallel to the eastern edge of the property, adjacent to the Gucmanova Street line. This creates a new, smaller scale urban space between the two structures, with entrances to both buildings. The changed density and proximity of the buildings brings to this area a new urban quality. The raised courtyard will become a meeting place, a communication space, an environment where social and cultural events can take place.
The pedestrian movement in the square flows naturally from the north side, with the first impression attracted by the corner of the new building with the clock, followed by a gradual expo- sure of the courtyards and entrances to both buildings. Opening up of the entire block allows for cross-accessibility from the Hlohovecka Road, Gucmanova Street and Razusova Street. This way, virtually the entire block is opened to pedestrians. What has been perceived as introverted and enclosed will turn into open and civic.
The two-metre offset of the building from the east boundary made room for an access road to the building‘s back-of-house entrance for municipal cleaning and maintenance staff, during hours when the main entrance to the building is closed. The car access is provided from the Hlohovecka Road and Rázusova Street. Visitor parking is situated in its original location, next to Hlohovecka Road. In this area, grown trees will be planted in a rhythmical pattern, in order to provide a visual barrier from the existing development to the south. The staff parking area will be provided adjacent to Razusova Street, including a two-vehicle town hall staff garage and a municipal maintenance garage.
The Mayor’s Office, which is situated on the ground floor and is connected to the Registry and the office of the Chief Operating Officer, has the largest window facing the entrance area, overlooking the entire complex from the Hlohovecka Road. Located in the east end, the ceiling of this office is again quarter-vaulted, forming a comfortable seating area. Each of these spaces has its own unique character and we believe that, except helping the identity and wayfinding, these spatial interventions also bring a certain poetic dimension to the otherwise fairly simplistic internal structure of the building.
In the overall architectural concept, the entryways and internal passageways, play an important role. Connected to a generous entrance recess is the lobby area, with a clearly identifiable stair- case and an elevator. This two-storey open space gradually transforms into a linear hallway towards the south. Our concept embraces the entire set of internal passageways in a unified material and visual expression. Brushed concrete will be used on all floors in these areas, while ceilings will have an architectural concrete finish. Since the offices and social function areas will be finished in com- pletely different materials and architectural details, the public traffic areas inside the building will be clearly distinguished and visualised. Virtually all offices are visually connected into these areas by internal glass partitions, which will also guarantee sufficient light distribution.
The external architectural expression reflects its internal structure.
The basic form is modeled by recesses in the building mass, including the main entryway on the west side, service entrance and a small recessed balcony for the staff on the east side.
The next element of the facade modelling is the windows with oblique parapets. Again, the location of the windows reflects the internal structure and layout. Since the load-bearing system is arranged lengthwise, the location of partitions in the transverse direction is governed independently on both floors, based on the logic of the internal room layout. The misalignment of offices on both floors determines the offsetting of windows below and above.
The facade of the building will receive a fine stucco finish, in combination with pre-fab panels and a self-setting, fiber-glass-reinforced concrete, which will be applied in the recessed parts as well as in additional window perforations.
All the office windows will have exterior shading blinds, integrated in the facade.
The western facade bears a visual element of a town hall building: The clock, which is a traditional signature element of a town hall. It is designed as a facade perforation, bringing daylight into the interior of the wedding room. In addition, after each wedding ceremony, the clock will ring the bells and bring the sound effect out to the courtyard.
The new building is a two-storey building, with a basement floor under a part of the floor plate. The first and the second floor are occupied by administrative and public spaces, with a garage on the south side. The underground floor houses mechanical rooms, back-of-house spaces, including warehouses, the archives and washrooms of the municipal maintenance personnel.
A covered entrance leads into the lobby with a vertical communication core across all floors of the building. Aside from the main entrance to the lobby, the building can be accessed by a staff entrance on the east side. This entrance serves primarily for the street maintenance personnel or as a backup entrance while the main entrance is closed.
Overall architectural concept
The proposed architectural concept is based on the winning architectural design from the competition. The original building of the Notary Office will be renovated for the purposes of the Municipal Library, with an added component of a café. The new building will be erected behind it, form- ing an architectural partnership between the original and the new. The space they create in between them is not only an entrance area. It is also a gathering space, representing an extremely important public realm, where various social events can take place. This space is also a stage where the old and the new stand „face to face“.
One of the initial assumptions of the architectural concept is therefore the dialogue between the original and the new architecture. Preserving the original building from the beginning of the previous century allows for a more elementary, perhaps even abstract approach to modelling of the new architectural component. This way, the new Town Hall building has been addressed essentially as a two-storey box, with a significant, clearly identifiable cut-out in the mass, forming the main entrance.
It is a public administration building which, in our opinion, should be presented in a pure architectural form, thus bringing in dignity and civilised presence. The renovation of the original build- ing aims to preserve its character, respect its original architectural qualities. However, the expression, the details and the materials used will be clearly articulated in the present-day language. The public space between the buildings will be turned into a modern urban space, whose main quality should be its flexibility to accommodate varying demands of different types of activities and events.
New Town Hall building - architectural and layout concept
The new complex integrates all the functions of a Town Hall, and the facilities of municipal public works and maintenance. The main entrance can be reached from the west side by a wide cut- out in the building mass, thus creating a covered bay within the public realm. This bay provides not only a clearly defined entranceway, but also a visual connection with the Wedding Room. The irregu- larity in the facade also provides a suitable space for displaying the national symbol, the coat of arms of the town, or any other desired insignia by the municipal authority.
In principle, the composition is based on an elementary box shape, with a simple and easily navigable internal setup, which is exposed externally through a system of regular perforations. In the internal layout, three core functions will be articulated: A wedding hall, a social activity room and interaction space representing a „collective experience“.
The large assembly room represents Democracy. The Mayor‘s Office represents the Authority. These are articulated through spatial modelling and light distribution.
The wedding hall will be capped by a vaulted, reinforced concrete ceiling, granting it a unique character, spatial quality with optimised proportions. The ceiling will be perforated by a regular array of circular openings, which will provide a distribution of light. The optimisation of the space proportions was necessary due to the embedded gallery, which was designed to increase the capacity of potential spectators in case of larger social events.
The large assembly room, which is located on the second floor at the south end, will be provided with a unique, quarter-vaulted ceiling system which will form a skylight lowered above the main negotiating table. Thus the Members of the Municipal Council will not be disturbed from outside - both the natural and artificial light will be brought in exclusively from above, through this skylight.
In the northern part of the building, a wedding and social event hall with a capacity of 40 seats is accessible from the entrance lobby. Adjacent to this hall, open across two storeys with a gallery is an event kitchenette, located below the gallery. The first-contact offices, including the Registry and the Cashier are located directly in the main lobby. Washrooms are discreetly accessible through a vestibule. The main lobby is connected to the Registry, which is adjoined by the office of the Chief Operating Officer and the Mayor’s Office. The garages for the Town Hall’s cars as well as the municipal street maintenance can be reached through a paved area from Rázusova Street.
Aside from the offices of the Investment, Environmental and Cultural Managers, the Payroll plus one spare office room, located on the second floor is also a kitchenette, washrooms and two conference rooms. The smaller of the two conference rooms with a recessed balcony and the larger one with a skylight are both located in the southern part of the building. The functional program is also supplemented by a server room, telephone switchboard room and a local radio room.
Municipal Library - architectural and layout concept
The original building of the Town Hall will be renovated to be used as a municipal library with a café. It will be an autonomous operation independent of the town hall. The existing building has a sufficient spatial capacity for this purpose. The architectural concept is respecting its original character, while developing its potential, adapting it to the new function. Physical interventions to the structure are minimised, limited mainly to removing the additions to the original courtyard. Layout modifications are driven by the intent to open up the space. The entrance to the library, covered by a new canopy, is provided from the courtyard. Through the entrance, a visitor enters the lobby which leads to both operations: The library located in the west wing and the café located in the north wing of the building. The south wing is housing both staff and visitor washrooms, a storage area and a boiler room.
The library is designed as one open space, with portable bookshelves. The library staff desk is located in the centre, while the study and computer areas are located in remote ends. The space is dominated by a bookshelf along the long north load-bearing wall of the building, with three facade perforations. The flexible entrance lobby is capable of accommodating events and discussions with children. The north wing is taken by a 20-seat club room with own, ancillary storage and basic facilities.
As a part of the overall design, we have paid a lot of attention to the environmental aspects. This includes sustainable rainwater management and alternative sources of heating / cooling, which are already a must today.
All of the rainwater from the roofs and paved areas is collected in a retention system allowing for its gradual absorption by the subsoil. Heating and cooling will be provided using water-to-water heat pumps. Ceiling system called OBKT is a part of the new building, using poured-in-place concrete ceilings, both for cooling in summer and heating in winter.