The city hall designs from Henning Larsen are characterised by a high level of openness and transparency, with many different built-in functions. This provides a vivid, versatile city hall that brings joy and benefits to the local government and citizens.
In the old days, people believed a city hall should affirm the power of municipal authorities and infuse citizens with awe via a monumental building with tall doors and a large hall as well as minimal interaction between the building and its surroundings. Fortunately, things have changed.
‘A modern city hall must have the character of a community centre, where culture, business life, healthcare and administration fuse and profit via common facilities and locations’, explains Louis Becker, partner and architect at Henning Larsen. Becker is responsible for several of the architectural firm’s city hall buildings in Denmark and abroad.
Becker continues, ‘The city is a physical manifestation of the democracy in the sense that it reflects some contemporary currents and structures in society. Today that means city halls open and invite citizens into the municipal engine room. The administrative function is exposed and accessible, while the city council hall is utilised for purposes other than weekly city council meetings. In this way, everyone, regardless of age, gender and social background, receives free, equal access to democracy’.
Transparency is key in the modern city hall buildings Henning Larsen is behind, from Ansbach in the south to Kiruna in the north. Becker lists Middelfart City Hall, which is planned to open in late summer of 2017, as an example of a good city hall. In Middelfart, travellers can look directly into the city council hall as they cross the Little Belt Bridge. Conversely, the local city folks and others who use the city council hall have tremendous views of the belt through the impressive panorama that connects the city hall with the surrounding city.
‘Transparency must be understood on different levels, both literally and figuratively. In Middelfart, there’s a physical transparency in the shape of some glass sections that ensure the citizens’ as well as the politicians’ insight into each other’s everyday lives. But there’s also a transparency on an organisational level, where citizens get invited into the foyer at the heart of the city hall when they’re contacting the municipality. From here, the citizens can follow the municipal employees’ activities on the upper floors’, says Becker.
Henning Larsen is currently working on city hall projects in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Faroe Islands. Several of these city halls are expected to be finished in 2017.
Watch our site tour at Middelfart City Hall construction site in the slider at the top.
Thanks to PhotoCare Grenaa