REPROGRAMMED / UNPROGRAMMED – an alternative future for V&D department store  Tilburg, The Netherlands | 2017

 

 


An essay

Architecture should harbour life, in all its varieties and extremes. It is expression of freedom and ability to shape life around your needs as well as ambitions. It is a tool from people to people for providing better life (conditions).

V&D department store is located in the dense urban tissue of central Tilburg. Orthodox modernist piece is currently undergoing demolition because of the unfitness for the new use. For the most of the past century we have been praising functional architecture overlooking one important thing: functional architecture can exist as long as there is a clear and distinctive function. And what is that today? This is proposal for alternative type of future which preserves the building as architectural and socio-economical asset, but also retrofits it for ever-changing purposes of today (and tomorrow). For a successful renewal, one must realize a need for programmatic revival, not architectural makeover. Mixture of uses, conditions, elements, relations… is the key for liveable and reusable buildings, which forms our cities. Proposal strives for a certain dose of, what Charles Jencks called – adhocism, in order to shape environment towards desired needs of the current user.

Hosting different programs requires different spatial conditions. New programs like nightclubs, art gallery and studios, lecture halls, shops, offices, restaurants, dwellings etc. requires contrasting ambients and different degrees of accessibility, privacy, light and usability. In a generic and enclosed existing structure, a proposal introduces two organizing elements: light shafts and vertical communications. Light shafts are penetrating the building throughout the section in 5 essential (dark) spots, creating secondary source of light. Instead of being consistent in form, they are growing and shrinking on each floor in order to provide better lightning conditions. Vertical communications are wide as well as permeable, and, instead of being just a mere connector in the section, they serve as a tool for creation of new grounds. By superimposing the structure, shaft and stairs, numerous different but not predetermined ambients are created which can fit all kinds of program. A non-definable space suitable for change, porous both in plan and section. In a basement and ground level, programme which can use little light and lot of publicity is placed. This includes gallery, shops, café and venue hall. On those levels, while exploiting economic advantages, building also acts as a passage linking main square – Pieter Vreedesplein and Heuvelstraat, Tilburg’s mains shopping street. Upper floors hosts more quiet and private activities as offices, restaurant, park, hostel, dwellings etc. Each use finds the most suitable surrounding by organizing according to light, structure and vertical communications.

Architectural interventions are clear and contemporary: light, flexible and efficient. Clear dialogue between old and new is present. Channel glass is used for the façade and shaft openings, emphasizing the existing brick finish and providing dispersed non-glare lightning conditions. On the inside, flexible containers are made from movable curtain walls and channelled glass. Cuts in the original building are visible and emphasized, providing legibility for the proposal. Given the building’s generic structure and boxy interior, building is defined by a façade, which is her most valuable part. Proposal aims to emphasize and preserve the existing façade, while recycling the building as a whole for the new use. Given its location, V&D building aims for the future as a Tilburg’s central hub: urban,fluid, flexible, exemplary, efficient…