Hillerød Town Hall

The Municipality of Hillerød’s new town hall is unconventional in many ways. It is situated far from the town centre, it is a partly converted barn, and the materials have been used in an original yet consistent way.

On the site of the former Trollesminde farm, a new and modern town hall now stands. KHR arkitekter, the architectural firm which won the competition, decided to preserve the former barn, thereby retaining the historical connections to the site while adding a distinctive touch to the new building. The farm manager’s house has also been preserved and, together with the new town hall, creates a clearly defined and welcoming arrivals area, much like a courtyard. The project has in many ways taken the existing barn as its starting point, an exciting volume with the potential to become a landmark in the open landscape. The barn sits perpendicular to the new wing, which has clearly been inspired by the barn, yet is at the same time quite distinct from it. The roof surfaces and façades are slate, whereby the two buildings merge into one large and unified volume.

Warm surfaces
The barn houses a canteen and the council chamber. The barn has been retained as a shell, with full-height ceilings and exposed beams. Daylight falls in through windows in the ridge of the roof and a strip of windows running lengthways along the façade. An exquisite combination in the expansive room as it emphasises the large wall and ceiling surfaces. Inspired by the barn’s very rustic timber construction, KHR arkitekter decided to use Troldtekt for both the ceilings and the upper parts of the walls. The barn is also directly connected with the extension, which houses the citizens’ service function and the various municipal departments. The calm, soft ceilings ensure a sense of continuity between the rooms as well as good acoustics. Close to the entrance and the public functions, an atrium opens up, allowing light to flood into the centre of the building. At the same time, an open connection is created to the office floors above. Openness and nearness have been the architects’ guiding principles in designing the town hall, an approach which has been strictly implemented.

Architectural materials
Creating openness also involves creating coherence and a sense of unity. Atriums are complex spaces, but the atrium here is unusually calm. To signal its connection with the office areas, efforts have been made to avoid contrasts between the office ceilings and the balcony fronts. Troldtekt has been used consistently throughout, emphasising the spaciousness of the interior by continuing from the ceilings and up the fronts of the balconies. Where the two planes meet, neon lights have been installed to inject life into the surfaces. Using the same material also strengthens coherence between the different building elements. The Troldtekt panels are placed in a pattern of 60 x 240 cm and 60 x 60 cm panels, striking a fine balance between the vertical concrete columns and the horizontal balcony fronts. The materials for the new town hall have been carefully chosen and implemented. Only a very small number of materials have been used; on the other hand, they are solid and familiar products which lend themselves to unconventional applications. On the exterior, slate has been laid on both the roofs and façades, while inside Troldtekt, wood and stone are used for the floors and ceilings. This gives the building a very textural identity while at the same time highlighting the planes and shapes of the architectural design as a whole.

Atmospheric town hall
In addition to large areas of Troldtekt, there is on-edge parquet flooring throughout which, like Troldtekt, is a vibrant and warm material. The two surfaces contrast well in the large and very light rooms. KHR arkitekter often works with natural ventilation, which means that the floors do not have to carry piping, allowing greater ceiling heights. Therefore the open-plan offices at the town hall have extra high ceilings, without entailing additional building costs. The window sections are also larger, allowing in more daylight. The indoor climate and the working culture have also been key focus areas during the design and building process. It has therefore made sense to use Troldtekt to reduce reverberation times in the large rooms and to create a pleasant working atmosphere.
In the barn, the combination of high ceilings, exposed wooden beams and the other building materials has resulted in a particularly intimate and formal atmosphere in the council chamber. The Troldtekt panels run all the way from the ridge windows and halfway down the walls, where they meet the edge-on parquet which continues to the floor. The panels are all 60 x 240 cm and are designed to give the impression of a uniform surface. This plastic use of the materials softens the otherwise hard lines of the barn without any architectural clashes. The council chamber has, as it should, acquired a very strong identity as a highly dynamic space.

Focus on ceilings
Mikkel Beedholm, architect and partner at KHR arkitekter, says that materials are always carefully chosen to suit individual projects and sites. The choice of materials is included early in the design phase and is crucial to the ultimate look of any building. According to Mikkel Beedholm, there is now more focus than ever on the importance of ceilings. If excessive installations and other disturbing elements can be avoided, the ceilings can ensure a sense of calm and unity in the rooms, and are thereby comparable with floor and wall surfaces.