Delft. Mecanoo redesigns the Delfland Water Authority’s headquarters

On the edge between restauration and renovation, the Dutch firm’s intervention transforms a historical complex into an efficient, contemporary office building.

Mecanoo, Delfland Water Authority, Delft, The Netherlands, 2017

The redesign of the Delfland Water Authority’s headquarters is in the first place an investigation on the “functioning” of space. This relevant city institution is hosted in a block which has grown over time without an overall plan: following centuries of incremental additions, its distribution system is lacking coherence, while its working spaces are narrow and parceled.

On the one hand, Mecanoo’s project entails the conservative restoration of several portions of the most ancient buildings – above all, the treasured Gemeenlandhuis, dating back to 1505, and one of the  few structures to survive the great fire of 1536. On the other, the most critical spatial nodes are integrally renovated. This is a positively nonchalant approach, one which commits to give contemporary qualities to the historical heritage, rejecting its musefication.

“By making openings at strategic locations, a clear route has been created. It links special interior objects and see-throughs in the building, but also visually connects the inside and the outside”. The architects’ words stress the importance of space continuity within a building which is now in every respect a fine contemporary office block.

Mecanoo is also responsible for the transformation of the parking lot alongside Phoenixstraat in a garden square: here, the massive wavy curbs and the rich vegetation aim at defining an intimate, enclosed meeting place. Rather, they end up being quite a cumbersome presence into such a small open space: a curious contradiction, for a project whose main quality is precisely its capacity to rediscover a possible void into the existing built volumes.

Mecanoo, Delfland Water Authority, Delft, The Netherlands, 2017
Mecanoo, Delfland Water Authority, Delft, The Netherlands, 2017
Delfland Water Authority
office building
Delft, The Netherlands
Hoogheemraadschap van Delfland, Delft
Zonneveld, Rotterdam
Cost consultant:
Basalt bouwadvies bv, Nieuwegein
SILO, Den Haag
8,000 sqm

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