Borsele Town Hall by Atelier Kempe Thill

Atelier Kempe Thill renovated the building using the studio’s trademark minimalist touch.

BORSELE – The Dutch municipality of Borsele was established in 1970 when 13 villages were merged, and a new town hall was built in the village of Heinkeszand. Now, the team at Rotterdam-based Atelier Kempe Thill has applied its minimalist magic and carried out a much-needed renovation of the administrative centre.

‘The façade, as well as the roof, weren’t fully waterproof anymore,’ say the architects. ‘Furthermore, the building had to undergo an asbestos abatement to adapt to modern building standards.’ Having won a European competition in 2009, it soon transpired that the architects would not be able to make any substantial adjustments or extensions to the building due to shrinking municipal budgets.

‘This project had to be realised in different phases, layer by layer – similar to the work of a plastic surgeon,’ the architects explain. The ‘delicate challenge’ lay in preserving the building’s overall structure, all the while giving it a coherent architectural identity and upgrading the interior to a 21st-century standard. To achieve this, the architects have inserted new glazing to increase the views and daylight, while the existing brick walls were covered with insulation and finally clad in panels comprising black, ceramic tiles. ‘The black colour visually binds the building together and adds to the impression of compactness,’ the architects say.

Inside, the interior has been stripped and turned into a mostly open-plan office space. To unify the design, white is used throughout. The most prominent modification took place at the entrance, where the architects have replaced unclear existing geometries with an octagonal dome, illuminated by a round skylight, covering the walls in white, glazed mosaic tiles.

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