Stadshuis Nieuwegein / 3XN

© Adam Mõrk

Architects: 3XN
Address: ,
Completed: September 2011
Size: 27,000 sqm
Price: 49 mio. euro
Client: Gemeente Nieuwegein, Projectbureau Binnenstad
Local Architect: ABT
Photographs: Adam Mõrk  


© Adam Mõrk

From Growing Pains to Growing Commitment
The new City Hall and cultural center in the Dutch city of Nieuwegein, is designed to create cohesion and the foundation for a stronger local community. A modern participatory democracy requires transparency and communication at eye level in the encounter between citizen and authority. These elements have been the core of Danish practice 3XN’s design. “It was important for us to create a building that was welcoming, rather than authoritarian in its expression,” says Principal and founder of 3XN, Kim Herforth Nielsen.

© Adam Mõrk

Nieuwegein is located 5 km south of Utrecht, and since 1970 the city has grown from having just 8,000 inhabitants to 62,000 inhabitants in 2012. The strong growth in population makes heavy demands on the city administration to develop the city socially and culturally. “It’s a challenge they are very conscious of in Nieuwegein. Therefore we have tried to create a building that can be a catalyst for social affiliation with the city,” explains Kim Herforth Nielsen.

Architecturally the building takes its point of departure from a central and bright atrium from where a sculptural staircase soars up through the building and connects the many diverse facilities – indeed facilities not normally found in a City Hall. By bringing together the local library, citizen service centre, café, cultural center and commercial spaces in the building, the City Hall fuses with a range of everyday activities. This creates life in the building all day, and strengthens the connection to the commercial and residential area surrounding the building.

© Adam Mõrk

The five floors spread out like a fan and open up towards the atrium, allowing the building’s visitors and employees to visually connect with what is happening on the other floors. 3XN puts great emphasis into maximizing the benefits of daylight through use of windows, including a huge picture window on the 4th floor, through which daylight streams down into the building. “Daylight contributes to a good working and living environment – it allows one to follow the rhythm of the day and enjoy the small nuances created by the shifting daylight,” explains Kim Herforth Nielsen.

© Adam Mõrk

The Mayor of Nieuwegein, Mr. FransBackhuijs describes the open structure of the building and the many different facilities as a great advantage for the city administration. “We are in close visual contact with the city and citizens throughout the day. That contributes to even more joy and enthusiasm when working for a better Nieuwegein”.

The building has two facades. The inner is a traditional facade of concrete and glass, while the exterior facade of glass patterned silkscreen almost folds around the building, but without covering it completely. This avoids direct sunlight in work station areas, while spaces like the lobby and restaurant receive maximum natural daylight and unobstructed views over the city. The glass’ geometric patterns in blue and grey give the facade a three-dimensional expression and reflect the diversity of both the building and Nieuwegein.

© Adam Mõrk

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Stadshuis Nieuwegein / 3XN" 29 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • Chris Carlton

    Exterior and interior seem to be worlds apart. Not sure how I feel about that.

  • Tom Peeters

    The exterior looks like a copy-paste from OMA’s library in Seattle.
    And indeed the interior doesn’t match the exterior…

    • Matthew Swope

      I live in Seattle and I have to say that I disagree with you. Just because this facade has some faceted panels/screening does not make it the same thoughtful expression as the curtain wall envelope at the Seattle Public Library…not even close.

      Why does everyone on here insist on claiming projects are a copy of other projects? Just because projects may have some similar elements or arrangement does not mean the architect looked at that building and said, “hey I should just copy that.”

      A great professor once told me, “Everything has already been done, you will just be re-arranging the pieces from now on so stop worrying about how your project looks and focus on how it functions and how people experience the spaces.” Obviously this should be taken with a grain of salt.

      • Tom Peeters

        I never said it had the same thoughtfull expression as the Seattle Library, it’s is obvious that in this case, the panels are just used to give the building a special look and that there has been no thought whatsoever.
        It ois however obious that this building refers to the Seattle library: not only becuase of the panels, but also on their shape, placement,…it has Seattle written all over it (in a bad way off course).
        Yes, most of the things have been done before, but that doesn’t mean we must all shamelessly make bad copies of good buildings (or building elements). If that is the way we should practice architecture, then lets bury it now, and throw every architect in a botemless pit,…

      • Chris

        Not seeing the Seattle Library comparison at all personally. There are no “panels” there that are triangulated and floating off the building; its all an integrated structural envelope.

  • Puskin

    My first impression?
    It looks like refurbishment of some building from 70′s.

  • Tom Peeters

    @chris: there are triangulated shapes in the library.
    Furthermore, i’m not talking about structural concepts, I think it is obvious i’m talking about appearance. I’m sure i’m not the only one where Seattle popped into their minds when seeing this building.

  • fokt

    This project has nothing to do with the Seattle Library. The library’s facade is a structural curtain wall that, in conjunction with a central core, keeps the public areas as open and continuous as possible. On the exterior, it’s an expression of program.

    The 3xn project is a rather simple box wrapped with a panelized screen. It’s not at all an integrated system like the library. The Netherlands has strict rules about how much facade can be glazing, daylight, energy, etc., so this screen is probably a response to those rules.

    Your copy/paste suggestion doesn’t make sense. It’s like saying that a mattress and a tv are the same thing because their shape is similar. But as we all know, that’s not the case.

    If you want to talk just about shape, there is still no clear comparison. The library’s curtain wall is made of many different shapes. Each facade is different. The 3xn project is a triangulated system. All triangles, and totally different from the Seattle Library.

    • Tom Peeters

      like i said before, i never mentioned a structural resemblance in my first post, sigh. I never said the enire building was an exact copy of the library, i never said anything about panels (Matthew brought that up so I picked on it) all being the exact same shape and size and whatever, sigh, please read before posting, sigh.
      I was talking about appearance, the external appearance.
      As far as I know there is no limit on the amount of glass in a facade in the Netherlands according to the Dutch “Bouwbesluit”. To me this screen is architectural pimping of an otherwise rather plain building.
      Saying that a TV and a matress are the same because of a similar shape (!?) is a rather lame argument, seriously, and makes me wonder what a TV looks like where you come from.
      Aside from that, i dont think anyone who calls himself “fokt” (wow, that is so clever) should be taken seriously.