New theatre operates at full capacity while municipality still works in the old premises

The process for a building brief can be compared to the “domino effect”: if one domino is out of place everything stops. This certainly applies to Het Kielzog in Hoogezand. In order for this new Cultural and Municipal Complex to become a reality, functions such as the library, the arts centre and the music school were moved out and the library’s old accommodation had to be sold. In addition, the association of owner-occupiers of the shopping centre opposite had to approve the plans.  In short, a lot of dominoes to work with. A complex phasing plan ensured that all the dominoes toppled at the right moment and the first phase has just reached completion. This was a good opportunity for those involved to review this complex process and, during a closed debate session, they shared their findings and conclusions with each other.

From neither the outside nor the inside is it immediately apparent that Het Kielzog is only half finished. While the theatre is fully operational, officials from the Municipality of Hoogezand-Sappemeer are still working from the old building. An internal street connects the old building with the new development. The temporary multiplex construction ensures that visitors are unaware of the clash between old and new. This means that the users can become familiar with the building at this early stage and activities can continue without interruption.  

The programming in the theatre is as usual and the library receives some 500 visitors daily. Their surprise at the fact that the library is distributed over two floors is logical: as soon as the second phase is completed everything will be moved to the ground floor. The council chamber will then move to a section of the library that already anticipates its public identity as regards spatial layout. Quite a puzzle requiring good communication between municipality, users and designer.

According to all those involved, the reason why this communication process went so smoothly was due to the commitment of the municipal staff who were in the various construction project groups. The lines of communication were short and programme managers Ivo Heijenrath and Douwe Oosterkamp were closely involved in the decision-making: any changes to budget, quality or time were reported to the steering committee under their leadership, which meant that unforeseen matters could be tackled swiftly. 

Whereas OKRA deployed its landscape design as a means of bringing the municipality and retailers closer together, De Zwarte Hond worked on a plan that reflected the ambitions of the municipality and the future uses of Het Kielzog. Furthermore, the phasing anticipates the approaching municipal reorganisation. During the debate both Henk Stadens and Wim Voogt from OKRA spoke about the municipality’s ability to “move with” the waves of the construction process. Within this framework Ivo Heijenrath said that the building and the landscape design were not the primary objective but a means of fulfilling the ambitions of Hoogezand, its inhabitants and the users of Het Kielzog.  

Click here for more photos and information of Het Kielzog.