Co-creating a centre for the town
City of Sint-Truiden
The town of Zepperen lacks a recognisable centre. The City of Sint-Truiden wants to remedy this by creating a new community centre, adding a heart to the town's vibrant social life. Local people and architects came together in several workshop evenings and meetings. This co-creation allowed inhabitants to shape the face of their new community centre. The starting point will be to restore the regional function of the former town hall and the municipal school.
On the orthogonal grid of the existing buildings, three new, clearly recognisable volumes will be created. This will ensure that most of the present views from the town hall and the school will be preserved. The inner courtyard amidst these volumes becomes a new public space, linked to the village's public network. A porch emphasizes this link and provides a covered entrance square that connects the town hall and the municipal school.
The two additions to the town hall and the school restore the functions of the existing buildings and link them with the courtyard. The new rooms for the National Youth Organisation will be slotted in underneath the existing porch with its saddle roof. The rooms will have large glass façades, with doors opening into the courtyard. The former town hall receives a modest extension, to link the two building volumes and accommodate the community rooms.
The third addition replaces the current back wing of the town hall and will function as a polyvalent hall. This gives the polyvalent hall a central location in the external space, preserving the setup of the location. The double-height hall features a glass façade at ground-floor level, linking the two sections of the site.
All extensions are characterised by a maximum degree of openness and use the same materials. The powerful rhythm and wooden appearance contrast with the brickwork buildings. Using the same materials for all extensions not only indicates which parts were added, but also provides a degree of serenity to the site. The smart structure of the volumes guarantees optimal flexibility for the centre, to meet the needs and wishes of future generations.