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Mecanoo's first-class ticket to Tilburg

Jez Abbott
03 Feb 2019

An iconic former locomotive shed has been transformed into a laid-back library space.

LocHal is billed as a world-class urban living room for that used to be train shed for Dutch National Railways but now forms the heart of Tilburg’s new City Campus.

LocHal is a space for both young and old to read, learn, study, meet and gather. It is a place for testing, creating, exhibiting and presenting the latest innovations.

Mecanoo’s playful and innovative interior design plays on striking contrasts by combining historical elements with new oak and steel additions.

A colour palette of reds and oranges contributes to a warm atmosphere and backdrops spaces for a diversity of settings for meeting, collaboration and concentrated work.

A central eye-catcher is the city café featuring a bar with red, brown and gold ceramic tiles, crowned with a neon LocHal logo.

Old tracks remain visible in the concrete floor and are used to move three large wheeled “train” tables.

A single table can become the extension of the bar or, when combined with another table, forms a stage with the stairs as a tribune.

They can also be moved outside to form a stage for outdoor events. Full-height textile walls, designed by Inside Outside and the Textile Museum, soften the industrial hall.

They also divide the space into larger or smaller activity areas. 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 and more inviting bookshop-style display units. Meanwhile a stair landscape that Civic Architects designed for the monumental LocHal takes you to upper floors.

With the flexible oak seating elements, everyone can ‘build’ their own meeting place or quiet working niche.

LocHal is not only a library but also a laboratory where visitors are challenged, gain new knowledge and learn about new innovations, according to Mecanoo.

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.

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