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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Schorndorf Town hall in Marktplatz 1, Germany by Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

 
December 13th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

The Town Hall, built 1726-30, is a symbol of Schorndorf (population 38,000), a stand-alone structure which dominates the town’s market square. For the initial conversion stage the upper floors were renovated in line with energy efficiency and listed building requirements.

Image Courtesy © Zooey Braun

  • Architects: Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH
  • Project: Schorndorf Town hall
  • Location: Marktplatz 1, Germany
  • Photography: Zooey Braun
  • CLIENT: Stadt Schorndorf
  • YEAR: November 2012
  • SIZE: 654 m² / sqm
  • TEAM: Peter Ippolito, Gunter Fleitz, Christian Kirschenmann, Tim Lessmann, Markus Schmidt, Roger Gasperlin
  • LIGHTING DESIGN: Lichtwerke GmbH, Köln

Image Courtesy © Zooey Braun

In the second building phase came the reconfiguration of public areas in the basement as well as the façade. The design was guided by the aim of rendering the historic space visible and making public areas multifunctional and flexible. This results in a transparency throughout the entire building which stands as a symbol for citizen-oriented democracy while also recalling the basement’s original function as a market hall.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

Past structural transformations, particularly those made in the 1980s, had left their marks on the building. Wood panelling made the interior space appear rustic and cramped and the historic fabric of the building was scarcely visible. To achieve our goal of revitalising the historic space the ground floor was gutted and the floor plan radically reorganised.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

Visitors enter the building through the foyer. It presents itself as a wide, open space, its various levels creating an almost landscape-like impression. The free-standing wooden pillars are accentuated by the lighting scheme and the museum-like effect of the glass surrounds which highlight the building’s history.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

Other reminders of this erstwhile market place include the travertine natural stone floor, the wooden steps leading up to the hall, and the roughly plastered side wall with its dark paint surface. Sweeping LED light rings on the ceiling playfully encircle the wooden pillars, lending a festive air to the space. Visitors can find information on the town in the entrance area of the foyer. Shelves and counters made from solid surface material are arranged around a pillar with a high-backed upholstered corner bench for seating.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

The staircase rises from the foyer to a mezzanine where the suspended wedding hall serves as a link between foyer and assembly room. The glazing on all sides lends lightness to the space, which is accessed via a platform which offers compelling views of the foyer. The facing below is also glazed, meaning the whole floor can be appreciated as a single space.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

The assembly hall, too, is characterised by lightness and flowing forms. The central decorative element is the ceiling design. The ceiling sail extends in a wave-like motion from the wedding hall to the central rear wall, its curving edges opening the space up to the exterior walls. Ceiling and back wall form one unit, cast over the hall like a protective covering. The rear wall – which conceals audio-visual equipment, surplus seating and a cloak room – is flanked by two mirrored walls which further emphasise the three-dimensionality of the wall-ceiling element.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

Technological elements are almost invisibly integrated into the ceiling sail. A further ceiling panel, with acoustic perforations arranged in a dynamic graduated pattern, ensures perfect spatial acoustics. The acoustic ceiling and natural stone flooring continue from the assembly hall to the foyer, reinforcing the overall spatial impact.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

The fixed desks eschew the customary parliamentary seating plan. The podium faces an open u-shape with the rear desk rows arranged around it. This creates a constructive atmosphere for communications, focussed inward on itself. If the council’s agenda demands discretion the room-height curtains can be drawn and the lighting adjusted.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

The space doesn’t just make an impression from within;the redesign of the exterior means it can be appreciated from outside as well. The large arched windows boast steel frames with slender rungs, reaching right down to the ground. At the height of the assembly hall passers-by can see right through the building, particularly at night.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

The new staircase on the side wall, an obligatory escape route, here functions as a further invitation to engage with the space. The lighting concept emphasises the open arches and façade segmentation. The transparency and openness of the building are symbolic of an approach to politics which prioritises participation and citizen accessibility.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

The most extensive intervention in the building’s structure was the installation of a mandated disabled-access elevator. The insertion of the elevator shaft required that the entire upper storey area be renovated in line with fire regulation requirements.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

By converting the town hall in accordance with its status as a listed building, Schorndorf now has a multi-functional, atmospherically dense citizens’ assembly. The historic building elements have been sensitively integrated into the contemporary spatial design. The transparency of the building ensures that the interior becomes one with the public space on the market square.

Originally built in 1726-30, Schorndorf Town Hall is the jewel and landmark of the town of Schorndorf. In the first stage of construction, we energetically rehabilitated the top floors of the building and restored them in line with historical monument regulations. A second phase of construction followed with a redesign of the public area of the ground floor and a new façade design. The main idea behind the design was to make the historical space as visible as possible. The resulting transparency in all areas demonstrates a citizen-oriented understanding of democracy and recalls the former marketplace function of the ground floor.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

A staircase leads up from the foyer with its historical wooden pillars to a glass-fronted wedding hall. This free-floating unit with a subjacent window to the plenary hall are made of glass, so the room can be perceivedas a whole. The plenary hall is characterised by an undulating ceiling sail and a seating arrangement that is optimised for maximum eye contact, thus promoting a constructive atmosphere for communication.

Image Courtesy © Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH

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Category: Town Hall

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