Breaking down Barriers
Kerkrade wanted to revive its city center. A former shopping mall was to become the home of a new library. This old mall had a theater next door with an entrance hall that was mostly empty. A desire for a lively city and a lot of unused space meant only one thing: It was time to break down these physical barriers, ultimately making the social barriers follow. First, the library commissioned this project, but soon the client shifted to the municipality as the theater and other parties became involved. The city center was to be reawakened with the help of multiple organizations; this new space was going to become a hub.
It was time to break down these physical barriers, ultimately making the social barriers follow.
Social innovation would only be possible with clear cooperation between library, theater and municipality. The interior was designed for the entire cultural cluster, which now houses the library, the foyer of the theater, offices, creative spaces for performing and watching shows, and a multifunctional hall. All the participating organization are interwoven in a vast area spanning 5,000m2 with nothing separating them from one another. Upon entering the library, you can digitally become a member at the service counter, but you can also purchase tickets for a theater show next door. While this large scope means there is space for a lot of exciting programming, it also means there are reclusive options. Hidden nooks and reading booths offer calm and intimate options to drift away in a novel or read to somebody, despite being in a public place.
Combing Past and Present: Something new while staying true
This project is interesting because of the transition from the library as the initial client to having the humbling opportunity to design something for the entire city. This revival of the city meant that the HUB needed a new identity. There are many elements found within HUB Kerkrade that allude to the coal mining history of the city: a dimly lit room is a subtler allusion to a coal mine while tailor-made coal mining lifts provide physical symbolic detail. Giving a nod to the past provides local patrons with a sense of identity of their city’s history. Kerkrade is a typical project case of hybridization, as you link multiple public programs together. A broad range of features now welcomes citizens of all ages, while also maintaining some of the city’s character. Combining programs is challenging, but the outcome of a unique synergy was well worth the effort.
Project credits Kerkrade Culture Cluster.
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. Digtecture: developed in cooperation with Alex Talsma.
Photography: Marco Heyda / Jan de Vries