Historical Ensemble: Delfland Water Authority by Mecanoo
Client: Hoogheemraadschap van Delfland
Location: Phoenixstraat 32, 2611 AL Delft (NL)
As their first intervention, Mecanoo restructured the exterior surfaces. On Phoenixstraat, which runs southwest of the complex, a paved forecourt has replaced the former parking lot. This opens up the view of all the buildings belonging to the Water Authority, which are arranged around a lovingly planted garden crisscrossed by narrow footpaths. Small retreats among the plants invite visitors to relax.
The home of the Delfland Water Authority is a conglomerate of historical buildings that has grown over the years. The complex is characterized by striking façades, steep gable roofs and a little tower. Mecanoo architecten have thoughtfully renovated and restaged these distinctive features. In this project, they have particularly focused on the connecting points between the individual structures, which work to create a continuous spatial sequence. The main entrance now has a glass front. This has been placed in front of the original façade to form a light-filled reception area. Here, the imposing reception takes centre stage: a round, wooden counter adorned by the Water Authority’s logo. The paving stones of the forecourt continue indoors, creating a fluid transition along with the window frames of the old façade, which are entirely in wood.
In the design of the interior spaces, which encompass workplaces, conference areas, an archive and a restaurant, Mecanoo architecten decided in favour of a combination of old and new. While some of the historical rooms merely underwent technical updates, the interventions were greater in other places. Courageously, Mecanoo architecten broke through the building shell in order to make space for large-format glazing. They have created targeted openings that allow light to stream inside and feature beautiful views of the outdoors. The material concept is a fascinating combination of the rough façade bricks of the existing structures, sleek white surfaces, modern fittings and wood. The theme of the Water Authority has been taken up by the SILO branding agency in the form of various details appearing in the ensemble: illustrations of water maps along the glass partitions and a tapestry that decks the main hall. A small gallery is devoted to the history of the Delfland Water Authority.