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Civic Architects creates public library in vast locomotive shed

Posted on 20 May, 2017 by Charles
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Civic Architects creates public library in vast locomotive shed

The vast LocHal library and events space, designed by Amsterdam-based studio Civic Architects, occupies a former glass and steel locomotive shed in Tilburg, the Netherlands.

Located in Tilburg's station district, the LocHal library is named after the locomotive shed in which it is housed. The building's imposing footprint measures 90 x 60 metres with a height of 15 metres.

LocHal Public Library, designed by Civic Architects

Designed by Inside Outside and woven by the Tilburg Textile Lab, the six screens not only create more intimate, smaller scale environments within the cavernous space, but they also improve its acoustic properties.

LocHal Public Library, designed by Civic Architects

The screens can be repositioned using a computerized system. They can, for example, be moved to separate areas from the higher library floors, or across one of the staircases to create a small, semi-private auditorium.

The largest screens, measuring 50 metres across and 15 metres high, can be used to conceal the coffee kiosk or create a backdrop for it. When positioned in front of the windows on the south side of the building, the screens soften the light that floods through the tall glass facades into the inner square.

LocHal Public Library, designed by Civic Architects

A number of spaces throughout the building referred to as labs provide spaces where visitors can learn new skills.

For example, one of the labs is in the form of a glass cube, formerly part of the concert hall in Amsterdam's Beurs van Berlage building. There is also a Food Lab, a Word Lab, a DigiLab and a Heritage Lab.

There is also a children's library, the design of which was inspired by the nearby fairytale theme park, De Efteling. Here young visitors can wander through giant storybooks and browse bookcases in the form of coloured pencils and rulers.

LocHal Public Library, designed by Civic Architects

After dark, the building's glass structure becomes a welcoming beacon of light in the city centre. At this time, the architects said that the interior takes on the character of a theatre, with all surfaces bathed in a warm light.

"The imperfections of the existing materials contribute much to the authentic atmosphere of the LocHal," said Civic Architects.

"The architecture creates a colossal, industrial setting for all types of activity. The interior design, with its unique fixtures and fittings, creates an extra layer that adds playful variation to the overall visual experience."

LocHal Public Library, designed by Civic Architects

In London, restaurateurs Shamil and Kavi Thakrar transformed a former railway transit shed close to King's Cross station into an outpost of their hugely successful restaurant chain, Dishoom in 2015. The spacious interior pays homage to the Irani cafes that sprung up around Bombay – now Mumbai – during the first half of the 20th century.

Meanwhile Studio Puisto created a pine sauna complex within a former customs checkpoint, which later served as a warehouse building in Tampere, Finland.

Photography is by Stijn Bollaert.


Project credits:

Lead architect: Civic Architects
Transformation and restoration: Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau
Interior and landscape design, textiles: Inside Outside/Petra Blaisse
Landscaping: Donkergroen
Interior design library & offices: Mecanoo

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