Soon the new Art Depot and Atrium will open at SCHUNCK. In this series we ask employees and parties involved for their contribution and vision on this enrichment of the Glaspaleis. The speaker is Harold Hermans, project architect at the architectural firm Wiel Arets at the time of this project.
As project architect, Harold Hermans was the executive architect from the start of the project in 2016 until its final completion this year. The design and idea of Wiel Arets was further developed, executed and supervised by him and his team.
What is your relationship with Frits Peutz and the Glaspaleis?
Before this project, I regularly did some smaller subprojects in the Glaspaleis, so I already know the building well as an architect. In addition, I come from the region, I understand the importance of the building for the city and its surroundings. As an architect, the Glaspaleis is always on your mind. Moreover, I worked for Wiel Arets for twenty-five years, who in turn is a big fan of Peutz. So my love for buildings like the Glaspaleis is something I grew up with.
What do you all have to consider when executing a design like this?
First of all, it is an urban planning issue, in which the line of sight to the Pancratius Church is very important. As an architect, if you want to put a building in front of that, you have to be very thorough. In terms of building mass, we have worked hard to solve it in a subtle way, so that it is not perceived as an 'obstacle', but rather as an addition. As if it has always been there. With those proportions in mind, we tried to design the atrium. We were lucky that the building lines of the buildings to the left and right of the atrium, i.e. the music school and the Glaspaleis, indicated what the contours of the atrium should be.
What is so special about this project?
Given the connection to the Glaspaleis, it was natural that the atrium should also be a glass building. The curtain wall of the existing building was extended upwards. That defines the facade as a structure, the skeleton. That was a logical thing for us, because it looks simple.
But: something that looks simple is often the most difficult to realize. And that also turned out to be the case here. Take for example the simple facade lines; you don't really want to see anything but a vertical profile and glass. Ultimately, the biggest challenge turned out to be keeping everything within those simple lines, both structurally and in terms of insulation. One example is the sprinkler system.
We had two options: either show all the sprinkler pipes, which of course results in a very technical looking atrium, or incorporate all the sprinkler pipes in the profiles of the facade. The latter eventually worked out. But it was the biggest stumbling block and the most ingenious detail of the whole project, whereas a visitor will never see or know. And that, in general, is the main point of this project. Wiel Arets is an architect of minimalist details. With minimalist architecture comes the thought that you hide everything that obscures the design. It has to look like natural.
What did you base the material choices on?
We applied as many materials as possible while respecting the existing design of the music school and the Glaspaleis. All metal finishes were made in the same gray tone and metallic color. We first planned to make a natural stone floor, but that ended up being a dark green cast floor as in the rest of the building as well. We also mimicked the details of the stairs from Peutz's design, such as the sloping contours of the stairs and the brass anti-slip profiles. So it's really very much in tune with the rest. As it should be.