Korbach Town Hall

ARGE agn-heimspielarchitekten

Destruction with nous

The historic town-hall building at Korbach dates back to 1377 and comes complete with a statue of Roland, a crowstep gable at the back, an arcade along one side and a prepossessing tower at the front. A flat concrete structure typical of the age was added in the 1970s that can in retrospect be said to have failed to enter into any meaningful symbiosis with the older building. As a justifiable consequence, the ARGE agn-heimspielarchitekten consortium has now had the annexe pulled down and replaced by a new building.

Unlike the 1970s extension, the new building features both the eave moulding and the pointed gable from the medieval town hall and succeeds in helping give rise to a cohesive ensemble without pandering to the existing architecture. It diffidently refrains from stealing the architectural show from its venerable neighbour. The two identical sections to which shape has been lent are of straightforward design, derive crisp structure from their pared-down window alignments and boast bright façades that blend in well with the Korbach urban landscape.

The new building stands back somewhat relative to its ancient counterpart, thus generating new space at the very heart of the town. The public space laps all the way round the aggregate body of the town hall, forming alleys and squares that benefit the town at this location. A glass-roofed citizens’ forum materialises in the form of a three-storey air space in the middle of the building on Rathausplatz whose various gallery levels are also conducive to people finding their way around inside.

Architect and Object

Marc Matzken of heimspielarchitekten and Christian Thomann of agn, project management for Korbach town hall
© ARGE agn-heimspielarchitekten

“Any intervention involves destruction, so destroy with nous” – the architects are fond of quoting the Swiss architect Luigi Snozzi when elucidating their own understanding of architecture.

Building site as urban mine

Demolition activities tend to be viewed more critically than ever by the public these days. Besides the high levels of CO2 emitted when erecting a building and the fact that supplies of raw materials are finite, the waste arising in the construction industry is likewise a huge problem. It is accordingly crucial that top priority be given to retaining as much existing substance as possible. Nevertheless, the town-hall annexe at Korbach, a building faced in washed-concrete slabs, had been fitted with complex air-conditioning systems and generally ageing technical services that were in urgent need of being brought in line with current energy-related stipulations.

A sustainable concept was sought for the new town-hall building that would serve as a role model for the efficient use of materials in construction and was scientifically evaluated to this end. Christian Thomann and heimspielarchitekten impressed the competition jury with their blueprint and the urban-mining concept they adopted. This envisaged the old building being used as a source of raw materials for its successor. At the same time, the new building was put up in such a way as to enable future generations to take it back down in a “cleanly sorted” manner, hence allowing as much material as possible to be recycled.

Design that doesn’t age is likewise a sustainable asset. The FSB 1035 handle model selected by the architects for the town-hall extension at Korbach is already a classic in their eyes: “slick, timeless … - our heimspiel favourite at the moment!” It was designed in 1996 by the interior designer Heike Falkenberg. The office doors in the new extension have been fitted with handles in Stainless Steel, the aluminium-and-timber windows with plug-in handles in contrasting Matt Black Aluminium, both from the same FSB series.

Object Details

Fotos: © Caspar Sessler


Korbach Town Hall

Stechbahn 1,
34497 Korbach,

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