Schorndorf Town Hall
Thursday 12 Dec 2013


Schorndorf Town Hall, built 1726-30, is a stand-alone structure which dominates the town's market square. For the initial conversion stage the upper floors were renovated in line with energy efficiency and listed building requirements. In the second building phase came the reconfiguration of public areas in the basement and the façade. The design aimed to render the historic space visible and make public areas multifunctional and flexible. This resulted in a transparency throughout the building which stands as a symbol for citizen-oriented democracy while also recalling the basement's original function as a market hall.

The foyer presents as a wide, open space, its various levels creating a landscape-like impression. The free-standing wooden pillars are accentuated by the lighting scheme and the museum-like effect of the glass surroundings which highlight the building's history. Other features include travertine natural stone flooring, wooden steps leading up to the hall, and the roughly plastered side wall with its dark paint surface. Sweeping LED light rings on the ceiling encircle the wooden pillars, lending a festive air to the space. Shelves and counters made from solid surface material are arranged around a pillar with a high-backed upholstered corner bench for seating.

The staircase rises from the foyer to a mezzanine. The glazing on all sides lends lightness to the space, offering compelling views of the foyer.

The assembly hall is characterised by lightness and flowing forms, with the ceiling design as the central decorative element. The ceiling sail extends in a wave-like motion from the wedding hall to the central rear wall, its curving edges opening the space up to the exterior walls. The rear wall is flanked by two mirrored walls which emphasise the three-dimensionality of the wall-ceiling.

Technological elements are almost invisibly integrated into the ceiling sail. A further ceiling panel, with acoustic perforations arranged in a dynamic graduated pattern, ensures perfect spatial acoustics. The acoustic ceiling and natural stone flooring continue from the assembly hall to the foyer, reinforcing the overall spatial impact.

The fixed desks eschew the customary parliamentary seating plan. The podium faces an open u-shape with the rear desk rows arranged around it. This creates a constructive atmosphere for communications. If the council's agenda demands discretion, the room-height curtains can be drawn and the lighting adjusted.

By converting the town hall in accordance with its status as a listed building, Schorndorf now has a multi-functional, atmospherically dense citizens' assembly. The historic building elements have been sensitively integrated into the contemporary spatial design. The transparency of the building ensures that the interior becomes one with the public space on the market square.