Utrecht City Hall - The new Utrecht city hall stands at a promising yet extremely complex location: partly beside and partly on top of the new station concourse (Benthem Crouwel Architects). Making both the station concourse and the municipal offices accessible from the plateau above the railway tracks and platforms formed one of the challenges. The complexity of this design assignment was increased by the planned transport hub for bus and express tram connections at ground level. In procedural terms, it was also complicated by the large number of participating parties with their corresponding - and opposing - interests. The lower three levels of the city hall, located between ground level and public level, are intended for parking and for technical facilities. Together, they form a podium at public level at approximately 7.5 metres above
ground level, linking up with the station concourse above the railway tracks and platforms. Particular attention is devoted to connecting the area on both sides of the tracks by means of a ‘central boulevard,’ which hangs above the tracks alongside the new station concourse and opens up on the western side into the area in which the city hall and the station concourse meet. The entrance hall is to be found in this central boulevard. From the public plateau, the first few levels are intended for public functions. Three floors (6, 11, and 21) serve as meeting places (plazas) and are characterized by their higher ceilings. The other levels house office space. The shape of the building is determined by a combination of three types of buildings: the public foyer divided between the first five layers, the surrounding, rectangular b uilding element that crosses above the stations roof, and the divided towers. In terms of construction, the layout is based on relatively few supports with large-scale forces instead of the usual even distribution. Due to the great depth of the building, larger empty spaces have been created in various places by means of atriums and inner courtyards in a semi outdoor climate, for optimum daylight access and a pleasant work environment. We wanted to prevent the city hall becoming an icon of bureaucracy, even if only due to its size. It is therefore important that the working areas and the public foyer have a visual relationship with each other, and that the building opens itself up to the public. This communicates the literal transparency of local government and creates an inspiring, open building. The relatively small footprint of the building means that not all public functions can be housed on the same floor. Instead, they are divided over several levels around a large, spacious atrium. In this regard, it is important that these floors are not situated directly above one another but instead are staggered and stick out. This creates multiple lines of sight and views. From the entrance hall, there is a view of a subtropical inner garden on the first floor and a four-storey-tall window. The construction - which follows the periphery - is visible in the façade. This doesn't follow a purely right-angled system, but expresses the stability brace connection and the unique construction: the southern tower is carried by just three supports. The stacking of three types of building and the varied daylight cut-aways produce different results on every floor. These sections connect the floors with each other to form a vertical landscape (in contrast to an ‘if you've seen one, you've seen them all’ building). In this way, different functional possibilities are created per floor, the visibility of and for the public is increased, and the scale of the building is kept modest. The public foyer, the outdoor space, the daylight zones, and the working areas are all spatially connected within the compact layout. Kraaijvanger - creating places to explore - Craftsmanship, innovative and full service. We create environments that move people. Environments where people work better, learn better, and enjoy themselves more. Such as public spaces, public buildings, and urban districts, where unique encounters occur, where beautiful memories are made, and where important decisions are taken. We take our inspiration from socially relevant themes. And we look ahead as building is a slow process in a rapidly changing world.