© Dominique Coulon & Associés

Civic Double-Duty: 7 Multi-Functional Municipal Centers

Administration, retail and performance spaces are just a few uses that rub shoulders with each other in this collection.

Ross Brady Ross Brady

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Where is the center of a city? Ask this question to any random urbanite and you might get a range of answers: a town square, city hall, the post office. In many places, it is questionable whether the recognizable “center” of town should be the primary location of that city’s government, commerce or social life. Not so for the examples in this collection, which combine an array of civic functions into a single building or small complex.

Administration, retail and performance spaces are just a few uses that rub shoulders with each other in this collection, often paired with such municipal staples as a library or a school. It’s possible these matches are made out of convenience, but regardless of impetus, the results are usually similar: These projects give strong expression to a city’s “center” by the nature of their plurality, and in doing so convey notions of civic participation and governmental accessibility, strengthening the social cohesion of their cities in the process.

© Henley Halebrown Rorrision

© Henley Halebrown Rorrision

© Henley Halebrown Rorrision

© Henley Halebrown Rorrision

The Junction Civic & Arts Centre by Henley Halebrown Rorrision, Goole, United Kingdom

Intended to combine art, politics and commerce, this hall accommodates a town’s council chamber and offices while simultaneously offering an auditorium, cafe and arts center for the benefit of the public. The council chamber and offices are on the upper floor, which allows the performance space to occupy a double-height volume.

© AHR

© AHR

© AHR

© AHR

Keynsham Civic Centre & One Stop Shop by AHR, Keynsham, United Kingdom

Public accessibility to open space was a driving factor in the design for this combination of town hall, library and retail center. Eschewing the obvious solution of a two-story building with commerce on the ground level and government uses above, the decision was made to stack the program high enough to create space for an outdoor market and new pedestrian-only streets. As such, the buildings are accomplished with several different masses that read independently, keeping the scale of the project in line with its context.

© Dominique Coulon & Associés

© Dominique Coulon & Associés

© Dominique Coulon & Associés

© Dominique Coulon & Associés

Multicultural Centre in Isbergues by Dominique Coulon & Associés, Isbergues, France

A strong central axis not only joins two programmatic halves of this building (library and theater) but the center itself stands at the threshold between a town and its park, acting as a connective seam between the two. The central axis makes this connection through the building itself, which is clad with a myriad of materials, reflecting the varied program inside.

© Guilherme Machado Vaz Arquitecto

© Guilherme Machado Vaz Arquitecto

© Guilherme Machado Vaz Arquitecto

© Guilherme Machado Vaz Arquitecto

Civic Centre, Matosinhos by Guilherme Machado Vaz Arquitecto, Matosinhos, Portugal

The relocation of an old library was paired here with elements of leisure and socializing. The media component is housed on an upper floor while the social spaces are at ground level. A fractured façade belies this split program with a uniform materiality across its whole expanse.

© HCMA Architecture + Design

© HCMA Architecture + Design

© HCMA Architecture + Design

© HCMA Architecture + Design

West Vancouver Community Centre by HCMA Architecture + Design, West Vancouver, Canada

This center combines the essential functions of social services and a health center, bringing them together in the same building for the first time in this city. This long, low structure anchors a larger civic complex that also features an aquatic center, bringing definition to this small municipal campus.

© Vincent Rocques architecte

© Vincent Rocques architecte

© Vincent Rocques architecte

© Vincent Rocques architecte

Multifunctional Community Centre by Vincent Rocques architecte, Saint-Jean-d’Arvey, France

A sloped site was influential for the design of this center, which stacks three separate floors diagonally as it marches up the hill. This massing also assists in the separation of programs, as the building hosts a town hall, library and an after-school childcare center. Working with the slope of the hill, each floor has direct access to the exterior.

© Fornari + Rojas, Architects

© Fornari + Rojas, Architects

© Fornari + Rojas, Architects

© Fornari + Rojas, Architects

ATENEU NOU BARRIS: PROJECT OF RENOVATION OF EXISTING CIVIC CENTER by Fornari + Rojas, Architects, Barcelona, Spain

This civic center is housed in a former asphalt factory, posing unique challenges for the designers of its renovation. Using the existing features of the plant, spaces have been organized in a linear fashion, and the former factory now houses local offices, a gym and a theater. The new uses, in conjunction with an unusual materials palette, gives a clear sense of place to this structure, matching the center’s civic ambitions.

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© Morris Adjmi Architects

520 West 20th Street // Morris Adjmi Architects

New York, NY, United States

The Climb: MVRDV’s Giant Staircase to Take Flight in Rotterdam

Some have railed against MVRDV’s plans to build a massive, 180-step staircase in front of Rott erdam’s Central Station, but here at Architizer we find the project uplifting. The temporary installation, which is named simply The Stairs, will allow pedestrians to access the rooftop of the historic Groot Handelsgebouw Building. The rooftop, which is currently home…

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