The first phase of completed renovations of the interior of the Rotterdam City Hall has recently been unveiled. After years of intensive use, delayed maintenance and general cluttering, and an occasional series of random renovations, the need for overall renovation of the Rotterdam City Hall - completed in 1920 - became necessary. The building was one of the only structures to survive the World War II bombings and consequently has been declared a Dutch state monument. Besides the renovation of the physical architecture, the client wanted a more contemporary, open working environment that provided a wider range of spaces for its staff.
On the basis of the masterplan devised by IAA Architects, Merkx+ Girod have redesigned new interior elements of the city hall. The first phase comprises renovation of offices on the 2nd and 3rd floors ground floor reception area, marriage chambers, 'Zaal 7' and circulation areas, insertion of a new lift and conversion of the monumental attic into the staff restaurant and conference centre. During the renovation process, all employees remained working in the city hall.
The renovation of the interior respects the delicate architecture of the existing monument whereby strict regulations govern the preservation of the building's heritage architecture. Major changes were made to the office arrangements, primarily opening up the smaller enclosed offices into larger open workspaces. Transparent partitions divide the spaces allowing more light into the spaces with the increased visibility helping promote more interaction between staff. A series of formal and informal spaces in and around offices and along corridors further encourage and facilitate meetings. The public debating and meeting room 'Zaal 7' and marriage chambers have been restored to their former glory with a hint of contemporary design.
The conversion of the attic - which was always neglected as storage space - formed a major component and technically, the most complex part of the renovation. The new lift reaches the attic which now houses a new staff restaurant and conference centre. To free up the space, existing services had to be relocated while new technical solutions had to be implemented for acoustic and thermal insulation and climatically to allow inhabitation of the space: all whilst keeping in mind the preservation of the historic character of the building. Extra daylight enters the restaurant through the installation of a large window on the inside of the building. The restaurant utilizes the lofty character of the attic space while the conference centre includes two conference rooms housed inside the characteristic towers and a series of modern meeting rooms.
Further renovation of offices and meeting spaces is expected to be completed end 2011.