HUB Kerkrade

15 May 2018

How can a library, a theater and other cultural partners exist together successfully under one roof? First, by breaking down partition walls and secondly by combining architecture for the public space with design for programmability. The result is called Hub Kerkrade: not only a resource center, but also a breeding ground for knowledge, information, education and entertainment.

Kerkrade is a city, located in the southernmost province of the Netherlands, close to Germany. Hub Kerkrade, situated in a former shopping mall, boasts no less than 5,000 m2 of area, which the theater, library, various cultural partners and the nearby Kerkrade music school all make use of. This location is part of the revitalized city center. The design of Hub is a new co-creation of international creative guide and architect Aat Vos (design concept, strategy, creative direction) together with Mars Interior Designers (design, engineering).

Meet you at the foyer!

In the original design, the library took up half of the building’s space and was separated from the theater by a wall. By taking down the barriers, more space, light and a new idea for the foyer were created. This room metamorphosed from a virtually always-empty space into a shared, multifunctional living space where you can work, study or meet up. The eyecatcher of this space is found in the foyer: the theater staircase is equipped with a beautiful handrailing and a reddish-pink carpet that is finished on both sides with blue steel. The bar in the foyer was fashioned from copper and is now propped against a rough brick backdrop coupled with an LED screen and light box. The ‘break drinks cabinet’ absolutely steals the show, both thanks to its size and the changing colored lighting.

Intimacy and connection via books

Books, niches, nooks and the furniture provide scale and intimacy in the large building’s robust concrete casing. The library is literally and figuratively woven through the building. From the entrance to the children’s corner, the different spaces are continuously connected by one long bookcase. Various functions such as sitting and reading areas, computer facilities, information points, digital screens and play facilities for children have been incorporated in this winding bookcase wall. The bookcase varies in depth, creating interesting sightlines that give the building a special perspective. Reading corners and fabric-covered niches act as cozy retreat opportunities, further shaping the intimacy of the building. There are also fine meeting places for smaller groups such as the Course Island in the side wing of the building; the island is equipped with modern presentation facilities and can be closed off entirely by a curtain.

A nod to the past

Just like in the rest of the building, in the library sections you can discover subtle references to the coal mining history of the region. There is for example a darkened area with a suspended ceiling that is surrounded by black wooden mdf bookcases with adjustable blue steel shelves. Tailor-made coal mining lifts serve as reading cabins and an old Hanomag truck lends itself perfectly as a reception area for groups. The Hanomag is parked in the centrally located Makerspace; this experimental creation room is equipped with a generously sized meeting kitchen where cooking workshops take place, among other things.

Specials for the little ones

The children’s corner in the building has a distinctive character thanks to its bright colors and striking specials. On a large round carpet with a comfortable couch and seats you will find the so-called ‘Book starter Corner’ for the little ones. Other eye-catchers in the children’s corner are the large stage featuring a ramp, floors with a wooden look, boxes full of picture books and of course the pink climbing castle. The enormous stuffed animal of no less than 6.5 meters is a climbing rabbit that makes this corner the place to be for the youngest target group of HUB.

Of regional relevance

“Hub Kerkrade is a typical example of intertwining multiple public programs- a challenge that is more than worthwhile when the outcome shows a unique synergy. My core mission is to make public spaces known as third places: in addition to the first (home) and second place (work / school), the ideal third place is a place where everyone, regardless of age, origin or status, feels at home. A place that does not require money to be accessed, is welcoming and approachable, and relevant to the surrounding area. A place to meet, share and learn with each other, but also get inspired, have fun and be surprised. Hub is a prime example of such a place- an urban living room by and for the residents of Kerkrade. Residents can actively take part in the programming and contribute to it once the library is ready, either on a special podium, in a new hall, or wherever it suits them,” explains Aat Vos.

Project credits Hub Kerkrade

Cliënt: Municipality of Kerkrade
Hub Kerkrade is a co-creation of Aat Vos (design concept, strategy, creative direction – and Mars Interior architects (design, engineering –, in collaboration with Stonepark InteriorBuilders (specials –, Keijsers Interior (custom interior-, Homij Installations (technical installations – Door Communicatie en Vorm has provided the Gemeente Kerkrade with both branding and positioning (

Image credits: Marco Heyda / Jan de Vries


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