Part of a national monument in the Dutch port city of Den Helder, the old mast shed and sail maker of the Willemsoord naval yard have been transformed into the city's new town hall by Van Hoogevest Architecten and Office Winhov.
“Willemsoord used to have a clear naval function, and the city grew around it. After the navy left, the vision was to set the navy complex as the centre of Den Helder again with the addition of food areas, a cinema, and the new city hall”, said Daan Lavies, architectural history advisor at the Cultural Heritage Agency.
Rockfon Mono Acoustic and Rockfon Sonar were installed by Plaveka Projectafbouw across the ceilings of the offices, corridors, and an auditorium to enhance acoustic comfort while maintaining the buildings' importance as the former naval base of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Historic Beams with Naval Tales
A distinctive feature of the complex is the beams along the inner street. These beams bear names like graffiti from the past, representing the people who have worked at the naval yard. In the new town hall, they now host public counters, a council chamber, a wedding hall, and a meeting centre. “We originally wanted to treat the entire beam construction against woodworm and other animals, but testing showed that the treatment made the names less visible. That’s why only the places that are not in sight have been treated”, said Jacqueline van Dam, architect at Van Hoogevest Architecten.
The other part of the new town hall, a former towing workshop and sail maker from 1949, underwent a significant transformation. “The building has been completely stripped down to the concrete frame, the floor, and the columns. The old concrete construction remains visible. Large window frames with a large amount of glass were installed for daylight, and skylights were installed on the roof. In addition, openings have been made in the floor, creating a void. This means that daylight reaches from the skylight to the ground floor”, said Jan Peter Wingender, architect and co-founder at Office Winhov.
Both buildings were upgraded with the addition of solar panels to the roof and the application of insulation where possible. A WKO Heat and Cold Storage system was installed, which eliminates the need for a natural gas connection. “Sustainability involves more than just preserving energy. It's about building a lasting place where people feel at home”, comments van Dam. To achieve this, the architect made sure to create a pleasant acoustic indoor climate.
Acoustic Renovation in the New City Hall
Working at heights in the former mast shed emerged as a challenge for the installer Plaveka Projectafbouw. “With a maximum height of 10 metres at the tip, we had to install acoustic panels on the uneven old roof boarding. To address this, each panel was customised due to the lack of uniformity between the trusses”, said Dooitze Elsma, the owner of the finishing company. “And because of the good acoustic properties, we fit the counters with Rockfon Mono Acoustic, achieving both acoustic comfort and fire protection.”
The seamless application of the acoustic panels in the RAL 7035 colour was extended to the Council Chamber ceiling.
The challenge of working at heights was less relevant for the finishing work in the former sail maker building, according to Elsma. Rockfon Sonar panels were installed in the offices, along with acoustically sprayed inspection hatches. Rockfon Mono Acoustic was also installed around the metal climate ceilings. “We were well instructed and guided by Rockfon project advisors throughout the work. It is not without reason that we’re a Rockfon partner”, concluded Elsma.