Municipal Office Groningen, the Netherlands / MVSA Architects

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Ambitious goals and requirements were set for the new Groningen city council office at the Harm Buiterplein site, in terms of its hospitality, functionality, image and sustainability. The client’s wishes were transformed into a meticulously designed and innovatively constructed building. It resulted in one very satisfied customer and serves as a prime example of sustainable construction.

Interaction plays a key role at the new city council office. Its design centres on two large atriums that serve as central meeting areas. The larger east atrium is open to the public and is intended for meeting clients. Here you will find the public entrance and central market square. The smaller west atrium is intended as a meeting space for the building’s staff. Here you will find staff canteen facilities. The two atriums together form a spacious, naturally lit and relaxed setting.

In public areas, there are various areas for meeting clients, e.g. reception desks, information counters and interview rooms. It was critical that this setting be both secure and hospitable for both staff and clients alike. Strategically positioned and designed meeting spaces meant that additional security measures could be kept to an absolute minimum.

The building’s overall layout – incorporating office areas, a public area and a semi-public area – required a flexible design concept in order to be able to adequately accommodate future changes in organization and/or usage.

New-style working concepts defined a general workspace layout within office areas. Activity-based workspaces were implemented as interchangeable, spatial building blocks that can be mixed and matched within the building’s grid.

Groningen City Council’s stringent requirements, as well as the desired degree of flexibility, took precedence in terms of selecting the building’s materials and details. The building’s sustainable design and construction also resulted in an extremely low EPC value (0.48) thanks to a highly innovative façade concept incorporating triple glazing and composite materials with excellent insulation properties (Rc > 5). Extremely low energy consumption levels were achieved using a combination of optimal natural lighting, thermal energy storage (TES) in conjunction with concrete core activation, solar cells and green roofing. The procurement of green electricity for the building’s systems also means that it is CO2 neutral.

One of the building’s other innovative characteristics is a new type of hollow-core flooring. This innovation provides several benefits. Firstly, it allowed larger column-free spans to be implemented that in turn provide far greater freedom in terms of internal layout, e.g. large meeting rooms can be accommodated far more easily. Secondly, building systems have been integrated into the hollow-core flooring, so that technical modifications can be made in response to new spatial layouts.

Project Details:
Location: Europapark Groningen, the Netherlands
Type: Offices
Design & Construction: 2009 — 2013
Floor Area: approx. 17,000 m² GFA
Architects: MVSA Architects, Amsterdam
Project architect: Roberto Meyer
Design team: Kees Stoffels, Beate Schroeder, Robert Chamski, Robbert Turk
Landscape architect: Karres en Brands landschapsarchitecten
Signage: Reynoud Homan
Photographs: Ronald Tilleman