Tjalk Shopping Center

Tjalk Shopping Center in Lelystad, Netherlands by Geen Punt Architecten

The following text and images are by Rotterdam's Geen Punt Architecten for their Tjalk Shopping Center in Lelystad. Click images for larger color views.

Once the original shopping center on this site won a price for “most environmentally-friendly building.” After being used by the client, asbestos was found. Partly because of this, the building got a bad name and was left by its tenants. Afterwards, the qualities of the location were recognized by a retail-based development company who decided to buy it and redevelop it.

The location has a key position in the local shopping area, so the design had to be both attractive and inviting. By combining crossing escalators in a spacious glass entry, the building looks dynamic and lively. The use of high tech steel and glass in a way that shows craftsmanship and quality underlines the idea that this is the place to be. But all this had to be done with a low budget, making certain decisions very important.

This project confronted us with a very essential question: Do we demolish the existing and design a completely new building or will we try to reuse the existing? During this phase we also encountered the problems of the then-current consumer market. While building shops centered around consumer products, we considered it essential to take a clear position in this matter.

Consumer products tend to produce a large amount of waste. With only a fragment of its components capable of reuse, one sees the necessity to lengthen the lifespan of these products. By reusing the existing building we could prevent the creation of building waste. Also, a new building would cost a great deal more than the reuse of the existing. If we realize that only 30% of all resource materials end up in the project, being thrifty with what we have is no luxury. The interior is constructed in such a way that future adjustments are easy to realize.

The existing building, as mentioned, was once a recipient of an environmental prize that turned out to be polluted with asbestos. This once advanced material turned out to be a hazardous element in a building. When we received the commission this location had a very bad reputation. Most of the building was empty and hard to rent. We had to persuade the client that with a strong icon-like element this shopping center would be regarded as new. This element is the glass climate zone.

Social Space
Major shifts in our social coherency have resulted in buildings that have a sharp demarcation line between public and private areas. Shopping centers during opening hours are considered indoor public space. To underline this public character, we wanted the entrance structure to resemble a civil object like a bridge. This brought a different logic into the construction. The construction was wrapped in a glass jacket with a minimum of elements to remain as transparent as possible. This resulted in a enclosed, but public, area with escalators and a strong relationship with the outdoors.

By linking the building with the surroundings we wanted to stimulate the sense of connection that is suppressed in our contemporary mindset. By stressing the community dimension in our projects, we hope that not only the social component of shopping is met but also that the joy of meeting and seeing other people is stimulated.

This building, although partly reused, is technological very advanced. All concrete is prestressed to reduce the amount of material needed and to optimize the building volume’s usability. The metal facades are highly insulated and require only a minimum of material. The steel is so thin that the front of the panels are not completely flat. To compensate this we made a subtle refinement in its compilation. A refined use of natural ventilation makes air conditioning otiose while preventing condensation on the large glass panels. The black concrete is made extra water proof by adding carbon as a coloring agent. Coloring all the concrete makes damages less visible. The steel columns with recycled steel are only treated in a zinc bath. No extra coatings were added. Being an internal structure pollution by zinc spore is minimized. The design of the steel columns make it a very strong and fixed which is necessary for the suspension of the large glass panels. Because of the size of the glass panels, glass fins were needed to transfer wind pressure to the steel construction.

The Tjalk stands out without asking for too much attention. Because of its enclosed entry, shopping remains pleasant in different weather conditions. In the dark the entry lights the street and makes the surroundings feel less desolate. Longer opening hours make it necessary to have an entry zone that functions and attract clients well into the darker hours.