The Stichting Altrecht commissioned VMX Architects, to design a new building for Willem Arntzs Huis in the inner city of Utrecht. Willem Arntzs Huis is an existing psychiatric facility. The site is an existing city block. There are a number of protected historical buildings owned by Altrecht on the perimeter/street side of the block.
At the outset the main challenge was trying to accommodate the new building in a historical inner city context. The programme required an area of 10.000m sq. of accommodation. But the existing buildings on the site are much smaller in scale. The solution was a cross-shaped building set within the quadrangle of the existing perimeter buildings. The main volume of the new building is concentrated in the centre of the site, away from the perimeter. This arrangement creates four external spaces. Thus the building will be not read as an isolated object, but will be perceived as four different spaces.
Different façade materials are used to emphasize a distinctive character for each of the four exterior spaces that the building frames. The “civic hof” has facades of concrete and glass. The “urban backland” has black concrete tiles on the ground. The bedrooms on the upper floors here are expressed as separate units in the form of yellow polyester façade elements working as bay windows. The “private garden” has green facades, overgrown by ivy. The “city garden”, finally, has a finish of wood chips and fibre-cement façade panels with a wooden texture, contrasting sharply to the aluminum-framed windows.
In the design the idea of “normalization”, has been developed and has lead to the so-called “hotel concept”. In this concept the public functions like the reception, lobby and restaurant are situated on the ground floor. Treatment rooms occupies the two first floors. Group therapy rooms and crisis services are also located here. Consultation rooms are concentrated on the first floor. By doing this, there is an integration of the therapy and the surroundings. The living part is on the four upper floors, with a different unit on each floor. Each unit has access to its own private roof-terrace.
|Costs||18 million Euro|