Almelo’s former Town Hall is in many respects a remarkable building. It is the last design in the impressive body of work by architect J.J.P. Oud. It was designed in 1965 and, following the death of the architect, further elaborated by his son – H.E. Oud – who described the design of the building as “poetic functionalism”.
For over thirty years the town hall was one of Almelo’s most important public buildings. Almelo visited it, worked in it, attended meetings, waited, complained, married and celebrated here. The transformation of this splendid building offers the opportunity of preserving the exceptional quality of the building and turning it into a new, extraordinary, residential environment that does justice to the original design.
The building was originally designed for another location in the town. Following discussions regarding urban development and the traffic engineering structure of the planned expansion, the design was built − practically unaltered – on the former Gebroeders Palthe industrial estate. Apart from adaptations to the interior it is still in its highly original, but structurally poor condition.
Formally speaking, the town hall does not have monument status. Nevertheless, the existing building has a number of exceptional architectural qualities that are particularly worthwhile preserving. And consequently the transformation is based on these qualities.
The building can be seen as a collection of three striking building volumes on a raised, basalt plinth. In the new plan, the high ceiling, the narrow interior dimensions and the remarkable triangular shape of the council chamber are used for the formation of an exceptional living environment. The homes are accessed via the existing, beautifully-formed stairways, with a staggered corridor on each floor. This creates great variety and flexibility for the housing typologies.
The original design of the town hall included a central lobby on the ground floor with an imposing, multi-storey staircase which, however, was never realised. In the new plan the homes are accessed by means of a central lobby area located at the heart of the floor plan, where a new spatial atrium reveals the staggered corridor over the various levels.
In the original design the slender, transparent curtain wall of the main volume represented an open, democratic relationship between bureaucracy and citizenry. This quality is applied here for a new, transparent façade in which cantilevering balconies and indoor loggias are also integrated. The continuous glass balustrades reinforce the image of horizontal lines in front of a play of large black frameworks. Characteristic façade materials such as the basalt in the plinth and lavagnina in the main building will be restored.
The programming focuses on a mix of target groups and the residential building will be occupied as a small community. The residents make use of car sharing, there are communal guest rooms, laundry facilities and a communal garden on the roof of the council chamber. The civic hall will have a mixed programme comprising a small theatre company, ancillary catering services and fitness facilities.