LEIDEN – A music venue in the Dutch city of Leiden has relocated to a factory building renovated by Rotterdam-based office Ector Hoogstad Architecten. Formerly Leids Vrijetijds Centrum (Leiden Leisure Centre), the venue now goes by Gebr. De Nobel, a name taken from the brothers who previously used the building for their rag and scrap-metal business. This site, located amid some of the city’s most important cultural attractions, has been of interest to the City for some time.

‘Over the years, the city council bought a number of buildings in a block on the 19th-century ring around the city centre,’ say the architects. ‘There were a number of charming houses in the block, but the real pearl was this brick factory building, unusual for Leiden, originally built in 1850 for making cement.’ EHA’s renovation was focused on both preservation and modernisation; the venue’s state of the art performance halls are interspersed among or within spaces where exposed brick and heavy timber rafters maintain a certain industrial roughness.

This contrast between old and new is even more pronounced on the exterior. While the building’s eastern façade – protected for its historical significance – has been restored in its original state, the western façade is now clad in weathering steel. This stark treatment does, as the architects point out, match the red-orange tones of local brick façades, but it’s also quite daring. The architects have given the site’s industrial textures an unapologetically modern form.

The entire neighbourhood, in fact, is undergoing significant architectural updates. In the proximity of Leiden’s Lammermarkt, Gebr. De Nobel is one of several ongoing developments that will strengthen the area’s cultural magnetism. Among them, an extension to Museum De Lakenhal by Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven and a new parking garage by JHK Architecten, the deepest in the Netherlands, are both planned for nearby sites and slated for completion in 2017.

Photos Petra Appelhof