The new City Hall building in Grave blends history and nature for a unified space
Designed by Erick van Egeraat, the new building for the City Hall in Grave, the Netherlands, has been created as a blend between historic and contemporary symbolism and acts as a tool for interaction and community.
The municipality shares the building with the housing corporation Maasland and the regional historic archive of the Province of North Brabant, BHIC. Seen from a distance the building presents itself as a singular ensemble. Up close, however, specific identities of the users become apparent. The three parties present themselves to the public in the main entrance hall, an open environment on the ground floor, thereby stimulating interaction among the tenants and between tenants and visitors.
The building is part of a masterplan developed by EEA for Grave in 1998.
The masterplan distinguishes between two zones; the historic centre of Grave and the green space surrounding the old fortress. The new city hall is situated on the border between these two zones, on the exact location of the former fortification. The city hall's design refers to both, the historic centre and the surrounding landscape.
According to Erick van Egeraat, this urban transition influenced his design significantly: "I wanted the building to blend into its environment unobtrusively, while making it very accessible to the public. We mainly used natural materials, such as wood, natural stone and a grass roof. The design is sturdy and subtle at the same time. In this manner, the city hall opens itself towards the entrance of the town and invites the public to enter."
The surroundings were not only an inspiration for the building's materials, but also influenced its shape. The fluent form of the complex refers to the former city walls, the interior structure of the building integrates the town's characteristic alleyways as a theme into its
layout: "At the front, the building establishes itself as a city wall, with the office of housing corporation Maasland marking the highest and most prominent point; the back side, where the building encloses a public square, has a smaller-scale appearance."
"Typical for this design is the unity and diversity," says Erick van Egeraat. "The complex unites three very different tenants under one roof, it has an open character and it blends into its historic surroundings."