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Material details win interior prize

A municipal archive renovation has won the prestigious ARC13 interior prize. The project, by Rotterdam-based designers HappelCornelisseVerhoeven, makes great use of everyday, available materials to really make the interior of this project stand out.

The renovated archive has maintained a quite formal character. Large, heavyweight furniture pieces such as archive cupboards and desks make use of a solid top-wood material to solve several design issues.

A long-lasting oak paneling laminated on a core of fast-growing deciduous wood means that the interior looks ageless, while also being environmentally responsible. Using a layer of oak means that the material doesn’t feel or act like a veneer. This is a common issue, as veneers can look cheap and tacky. A further advantage of this wooden material is that it doesn’t warp or twist, which gives the wood a clear-cut and solid finish.

The building has really been designed from the inside out. A great detail is the design of the handles and grips. These simple, rectangular, steel and brass shapes are finished with a structured powder topcoat for protection. This coating makes use of brass filaments for strength. Names and numbers are milled out of the coating, exposing the shiny yellow metal.

In contrast, the name of the building is embossed rather than sunk. The large letters form an ornament for the whole building, clearly marking its name and function. Sober colouring in brown and bronze combined with a symmetrical layout complete the building’s design.

These are a few of the special aspects of the project that the jury lauded for being an inspiration to the design community. The way that client, designer and user collaborated on the project and the way they are all represented in the finished work was singled out for praise.

The ARC13 prizes are awarded by Dutch architecture journal De Architect,  each year for design excellence. The Well Proven Chair lived up to its name by winning in a separate category.


Design: HappelCornelisseVerhoeven.

Photo’s: Karin Borghouts.