The renovation and expansion of the Neighborhood Center was part of a larger neighborhood renewal plan. The main objective was to connect the building’s many different activities and, at the same time, ensure an openness and accessibility for the public.
Today the neighborhood Center, located in an industrial building from 1880, houses a local library and a cafe on the ground floor, and office facilities on the upper floors. A new addition, with a common meeting hall, has been added to the Center.
The structural changes to the existing building consisted primarily of the partial removal of the existing floor decks, column supported steel beams with wooden floors, in order to create a new three-story foyer space running the length of the building. The horizontal slab effect in the building’s supporting structure, which the deck contributed to, was recreated by a steel truss system mounted on the facade.
The foyer houses the library lending area and a cafe as well as a free-standing main stairway to the first and second floors. The interior walls are sided with maple veneer panels. On the upper floors French doors, with glass panels as railings, opens the offices to the foyer. When the foyer space is used as a cafe or for other arrangements the openings can be closed with hinged maple panels. The library lending area, the entrances and the bar area can also be closed-off with maple folding doors.
On the ground floor the original window bays are clad in larch wood to create “quiet places” in the often crowded foyer. The flooring is pine planks, the exposed steel columns and beams are covered with ferro-cement fireproofing.
The rest of the building was renovated in a very simple way. The stucco outer walls were treated with silicate paint and the floor beams were left visible under the ceilings. The former asphalt and concrete floors were removed and the original industrial sub-flooring of narrow pine planks was planed and oil-treated. The partitions in the cell offices are painted plasterboard.
The addition was conceived as a “children’s treehouse” on trunks of oblique concrete columns.
The free-standing glass-walled structure, housing a two-story meeting hall, stands slightly turned between the two tall ivy-covered neighboring buildings.
The construction of the exposed framework of plywood, covered with thermal glazing panels in pine frames, appears like an oversized shelving system that defines the borders of the space and, at the same time, creates a soft transition between the interior and exterior. The addition is connected to the first floor of the main building by a closed footbridge which allows access without regard for the library’s opening hours.