By Yu Bing and Cheng Wee
Previously served as a locomotive shed, the ‘LocHal’ has now undergone an intensive redesign to become the beating heart of the district.
With a footprint of 90 x 60 metres and a height of 15 metres, it is both imposing and inviting. The new library was deliberately designed to be an extremely accessible building. The entrance hall takes the form of a covered city square with large public reading tables (doubling as podia), an exhibition area and a coffee kiosk.
Amid all this openness, certain events and activities may call for a smaller scale or a degree of privacy. Six huge textile screens were therefore designed which extend to ceiling height, thus accentuating the scale of the building while also defining separate areas and improving the acoustic properties of the interior. These screens have a total surface area of 4125 m2 and can be repositioned using a computerized system.
The new architectural design is a contemporary reinterpretation of that of the original late-industrial building, dating from 1932, and builds upon the logic of that design. The impression of spaciousness is strengthened by new sightlines across the diagonally stepped interior landscape.
Columns, floors, balustrades and the textile screens form the ‘grand gestures’ of the various axes within the spatial system: directly up, behind and to the sides, a reference to the industrial processes of the past. The original riveted columns have been preserved and are joined by large supporting structures in a more abstract form which delineate the side aisles they create.