A sympathetic view...

Frank Stahl
Wednesday 13 Oct 2010

Clarity and structure in renovation of the old law courts in Haarlem completed

The law courts in Haarlem consist of four buildings - two of them listed - and has its main entrance on Jansstraat. Since the most recent renovation, all that remains of the original 1890 court building designed by W.C Metzelaar is the facade. The complex, which houses the Family, District and Civil courts, has a gross floor area of around 11,000  sq m and is characterised by multiple differences in level, the product of repeated renovations over the years. The resulting ensemble of buildings is completely integrated with the urban fabric of the historical centre of Haarlem.

The design strove to maintain the character of the existing complex while improving and optimising the organisation and structure. Utilisation of existing strengths, like the beautiful courtyards, the stately buildings and the distinctive front facade, served as the starting point for this design. By means of a number of interventions, including additional stairs and new lifts, the internal routing was improved and the two heritage buildings were better integrated in the overall plan.

This structure makes for a more flexible and efficient use of the building, which in turn allows for continued sustainable use by an ever-changing organisation, within the existing context. Thanks to the integration of modern mechanical and electrical systems, the spaces are now more serviceable and, within the limitations of an historical building, fulfil the requirements of a modern work environment. Among other things, a thermal energy storage system has been installed.

The stately facades have been renovated, glazing has been adapted to contemporary security and climatic requirements, and the old entrance at the top of the stairs has been reinstated to create an appropriately dignified entrance. There was intensive consultation with the various user groups during the design process and this has resulted in a design with which the users are extremely happy and which delivers the desired atmosphere and image.

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