According to the jury, the new administration building has a clearly iconic character and thus forms a landmark, as desired. “Both functionally and volumetrically, the concept forms a well-fitting whole. The design holds the potential to be part of the future Nieuwpoort collective memory.
The management of the historic site and the location of the new municipal offices are based on the urban planning visions from architect Viérin, who after World War I was appointed to rebuild the city of Nieuwpoort. With Stadshallen, the town hall and the rectory, he created a unique urban whole, whose original design and unity are preserved to this day. “The new Nieuwpoort city office will be a lighthouse and will complete the ensemble of Our Lady’s Church, the town hall, the existing town hall and the presbytery in accordance with the spirit of the master plan by Jozef Viérin from the beginning of the 20th century,” says Sven Grooten, from B-architects.
Iconic design language
Due to the high technical requirements and user comfort, the administration offices, the ‘Alma Plaza’ meeting room, the grandstand and the council chamber will be housed in the new building, which the design team calls the ‘icon’. This iconic new building is in line with Stadshalle in shape and height and forms the new entrance to the municipal office’s public areas. The northern part of the building overlooks the cluster of existing buildings on the UNESCO World Heritage List and in return has an iconic design language that matches Stadshalle’s pointed roof. On the south side, the building radiates tranquility, which in turn fits in with the neighbors’ more residential character. In addition, it brings together ancient and contemporary architecture.
Easy and discreet link
The construction that connects Stadshalle, the rectory and the icon was named ‘the link’. Unlike the icon, this is not meant to create a stately volume. The building is light and discreet and takes shape through a large, circular carving that forms the central, open garden of the whole. Another, smaller circle is cut out at the level of the rectory, so that the character of the separate building is preserved.
A sustainable city office
The new city offices are fully contributing to a sustainable society, the designers say. For example, the buildings are climate-adapted and fossil-free. Geothermal energy (BEO field) and heat pump technology provide the necessary heating and (passive) cooling. Rainwater is recovered and recycled as much as possible, excess rainwater is collected as much as possible in the monastery garden. Flat roofs become green roofs. The public area around the municipal office will be green as far as possible. This ensures increased biodiversity, cooling, clean air and a noise-free environment in the center of Nieuwpoort.
The choices in relation to materials and construction method also confirm a far-reaching circular approach with a focus on maximum recycling, value retention (town hall, Stadshalle, rectory) and removable finishing. “For example, when restoring both the outer shell and the inner, we use a gentle restoration approach. In addition, we make a number of well-considered interventions in the three listed monuments that guarantee their sustainable usability and interaction in the overall design, such as facilities in in terms of accessibility, internal circulation and energy measures, ”the designers explain.
The new building will have a removable steel skeleton and the choice of material will be substantiated in relation to LCA (Life Cycle Analysis). “A healthy and comfortable indoor climate is also crucial for employees. We therefore equip the buildings with high-performance mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, extensive insulation and increased air tightness. We choose interior finishing materials for their toxicity, the use of adhesives and sealants is minimal. “