MFA De Heerd
Flexible accommodation for sports and culture
One building, nine users; this calls for creative and, more specifically, flexible solutions. As architect Desirée Vermeer of DAT architecten in Tilburg found out. She and her colleagues are responsible for the design of multipurpose accommodation De Heerd.
This new multipurpose building has a floor area of about 6,200 m2 and is used by a number of primary schools, a cultural plaza, library, community centre, day-care centre, playgroup, after-school care and gym. The users were allowed to choose the architect they wanted to use and were also involved intensively in the realisation of the final process, each of course with their own wish list and requirements. Architect Desireé Vermeer: ‘Luckily, DAT architecten has lots of experience with these kinds of projects, although nine users was a lot, even for us.’
The design fits in well with the natural surroundings, a former country estate and a stunning open green space in the village of Heerde.
Open and transparent
In the end, they decided on a pavilion-style building, mostly one-storey high and open in relation to the environment. The latter was an important requirement. Vermeer: ‘The design fits in well with the natural surroundings, a former country estate and a stunning open green space in the village of Heerde.’
A footpath runs from the town hall in the centre of the village through the park to the multipurpose building. This footpath formed the basis for the design and runs straight through the new building. This gives it a very open feel and two fronts. Large windows on the first floor offer wonderful views of the village and church. The building has also turned out to be very transparent, thanks in part to its limited height. From the meeting square in the heart of the building, there are only two corridors.
It was the express wish of both the users and the client to obtain a flexible building where the different parties really do sit together and share spaces. And this wish was fulfilled: for instance, the staff of the different schools share a staff room. The theatre, which seats 325 people, is also flexible: the stage can be folded up, doubling the floor area of the room, for brass band rehearsals, for instance.
The changing rooms have a dual use: for sports and for theatre. The three schools in the multipurpose building share the playrooms. These rooms are used in the evening by the table tennis club. The schools can also use the theatre or the kitchen for cooking lessons. And vice versa, cultural societies can use the classrooms. The library, too, has a flexible part, which can be pulled up to the meeting hall when there are large events.
In the short video below, architect Desirée Vermeer of DAT architecten talks about her design for multipurpose building De Heerd.
The most eye-catching element of the exterior is the glass windows. These have irregular vertical lines which had to be emphasised further through the frames. In addition, the frames had to be slim but sturdy. Vermeer: ‘That’s why we chose renovation frames by Reynaers which were reinforced especially for this project. As a result, the frames now have a depth of 100 mm on the outside and this instantly strengthens the vertical lines: there is more interplay between light and shadow, more depth and rhythm. The small rotating parts further reinforce the rhythm.’
Broken bricks are alternated with smooth ones. This changes the appearance of the façade constantly through the effects of sunlight and shade. The white colour also provides a beautiful contrast with the green surroundings.
The profiling is adapted to the thickness of the frame. The whole thing resembles a curtain wall but without the matching price tag. The façade was constructed by Dijkema Ramen en Deuren BV from Doetinchem. Also striking are the white bricks in the façade. ‘The bricks have been used in two ways,’ Vermeer says. ‘Broken bricks are alternated with smooth ones. This changes the appearance of the façade constantly through the effects of sunlight and shade. The white colour also provides a beautiful contrast with the green surroundings.’
Interior and grounds
The interior was designed by DAT architecten in collaboration with interior design firm Nijboer. The library, too, which actually has an official style, was designed in line with the rest of the building in consultation with those involved. ‘For instance, the wood veneer on the bar in the meeting hall, can also be found on the reception desk and the library table,’ Vermeer says. The building’s grounds have been designed together with landscape architects karres+brands. The building had to sit among the trees, which is why new trees were also planted. The eye-catching red carpet at both entrances was an idea of one of the users. This instantly and clearly identifies the entrance and highlights that there is a difference in height.
There had been a lot of discussion beforehand about where to position the entrance to the building. DAT architecten came up with a clever solution for this: ‘Because the path runs from the front to the back of the building, there are now two fronts and entrances.’ The nine users have been occupying the building for a while now and the reactions have been positive, something Vermeer is understandably proud of. But she is particularly happy about the fact that there is building that is open and transparent in relation to the environment.