The LocHal, an old locomotive hall dating from 1932, is located next to the station of Tilburg and houses the Bibliotheek Midden-Brabant, Kunstloc Brabant, Brabant C and Seats2Meet*. Everyone is welcome in the new living room of Tilburg, a world-class space for both young and old to read, learn and study, meet and gather. It is a place for testing, creating, exhibiting and presenting the latest innovations.
Tilburg is not only known for its worsites of the Dutch National Railways, but also for its textile industry and the Efteling, the nearby popular fairytale theme park. This history is made tangible in Mecanoo’s interior design. Characteristic historical elements form an exciting combination with new oak and steel additions, and a warm colour palette of reds and oranges. The interior is varied, playful and innovative. There is a diversity of atmospheres for meeting, collaboration, and concentrated work.
City café with reading and exhibition space
The eye-catcher is the city café featuring a bar with red, brown and gold ceramic tiles and a neon LocHal logo on top. It can easily be spotted from passing trains. The old tracks are visible in the concrete floor. They are used to move three large wheeled “train” tables. For example, a single table can become the extension of the bar; when placed together, the tables form a stage or catwalk with the stairs as a tribune. They can even be moved outside along the tracks to form a stage for events on the square. Next to this city café is the reading room with magazines, and next to that is the Kunstloc exhibition space. It is right in the corner, clearly visible from the outside. The textile walls designed by Inside Outside, inspired by Tilburg as a textile city, create intimate spaces in this large hall.
Crossing the building is an interior street lined with historic industrial columns on which the old layers of paint are still visible. By fitting the columns with wooden tables and lighting, they are given a new lease of life as places for reading and studying. The street is flanked by bookcases. There are also low mobile display units where books are presented invitingly, as in a bookshop. In this book street, books are also checked in and out. The bookcase wall on the office side has transparent display cases for works of art and unique books.
Children’s library with Efteling atmosphere
The Efteling theme park is the source of inspiration for the children's library. Bookcases take on the form of colored pencils or rulers. You can walk through the giant fairytale books, look for a book or play. The little ones can read a book at tables shaped like mobile phones, or listen to storytelling sessions while lying on an open book. Even the sitting poufs have playful letters in the form of fairytale animals.
The stair landscape that Civic Architects designed for the monumental LocHal takes you to the upper floors. With the flexible oak seating elements, everyone can ‘build’ their own meeting place or quiet working niche. The LocHal is not only a library but also a laboratory where visitors are challenged, gain new knowledge and learn about new innovations. Specially designed labs can be found throughout the building: the Digilab, GameLab, FutureLab, FoodLab, KennisMakerij (LearningLab), TijdLab (TimeLab), Stemmingmakerij (DialogueLab), WoordLab (WordLab) and workshop rooms.
The Library, Kunstloc and Brabant C share the office area, which offers a wide range of workplaces. There are open office spaces, 'touchdown' places for short tasks, places for collaboration, meeting places and a coffee corner. A wall of oak bookcases separates the office area from the interior street. Lockers are interspersed with transparent display cases, forming a playful composition. On the south side, there are tall steel cabinets that define work and meeting places.
A lowered working pit, where oil was once collected, has been transformed into an orange furniture element. This element includes a mezzanine level with places for concentrated work and a view to the outside. The playfully staggered stairs serve as an informal workplace and lead to the lowered working pit. The stairs also double as seating for staff lectures and presentations, with the working pit as a lowered stage.
Design Team: CIVIC Architects, architectural design; Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau, restoration; Mecanoo architecten, interior design; Inside Outside in collaboration with the TextielMuseum, interior concept and textiles.
Programme: Mecanoo was responsible for the interior design of the Bibliotheek Midden-Brabant, Kunstloc Brabant and Brabant C in a former locomotive hall of the Dutch National Railways. The interior design comprises 7,000 m2 including 1,300 m2 of offices.
Mecanoo officially founded in Delft in 1984, is made up of a highly multidisciplinary staff of creative professionals. The team includes architects, engineers, interior designers, urban planners, landscape architects, and architectural technicians. Discovering unexpected solutions for the specifics of programme and context is the foremost challenge in all of our assignments. Each design is considered in terms of its cultural setting, place and time. Within the practice are knowledge centres which enable us to stay current on technological and design innovations in sustainability, eco-engineering, technology, education and learning, high-rise and mobility. Preoccupied not by a focus on form, but on process, context, urban scale, and integrated sustainable design, the practice creates culturally significant buildings with a human touch.
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