Rounded glass facades improve views from Wiel Arets' water-traffic control centre

Dutch firm Wiel Arets Architects has completed a water-traffic control centre in the town of Maasbracht with a curved glass upper storey that offers panoramic views over the surrounding waterways (+ slideshow).

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

The Regiocentrale Zuid building was designed by Wiel Arets Architects as a headquarters for a branch of the governmental department that oversees the extensive Dutch waterways network.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

Situated by a series of sluices, canals and locks adjacent to the river Meuse, near the border with Belgium, the offices unite several existing control centres in a single facility.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

The building comprises a polygonal plinth at ground floor level supporting a larger upper storey that cantilevers up to ten metres over a moat-like reflecting pool.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

Silk-screened black glass fixed to the underside of the cantilevered level intensifies the effect of natural light reflecting from the water's surface.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

Lotus flowers float on the surface of the pool, which can be used for ice skating in winter.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

Two paths cross the water to entrances on the ground floor, while a long ramp provides access to a basement level housing storage space for bikes.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

The building is entirely clad in glass, with the elongated facades and smooth edges of the upper level framing panoramic views of the surroundings.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

A gradated pattern of fritted dots covering the glass facades provides shade and privacy where required and fades out towards eye level to ensure unobstructed views from inside.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

Workplaces for the various local waterway controllers are located on the upper storey, overlooking their particular areas, which are now predominantly digitally operated.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

At the centre of the building, a double-height atrium with a glazed roof and walls allows natural light to penetrate both levels.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

The interior spaces are arranged around this central core, with support desks encircling the atrium and dedicated offices positioned at the edges of the building.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

A staircase at the entrance provides quick access to the first floor, while a second set of stairs suspended from one side of the atrium offers employees a less-hurried alternative route.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

The building also accommodates a nautical training facility and education centre that invites the public to learn about the organisation of local and national water traffic control.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

A hydraulic door set in the ceiling of the central void provides access to a roof terrace where staff can relax and look out across the waterways.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

Wiel Arets Architects has experimented with fritted glass in previous projects, including an office with a facade that resembles onyx marble, a glass and concrete school building covered in patterns that look like ivy, and a house for a vintage car collector that uses fritted glass to increase privacy.

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets

Photography is by Jan Bitter.


Project credits

Project architects: Wiel Arets, Bettina Kraus, Julius Klatte, Harold Hermans, Rob Willemse
Collaborators: Jochem Homminga, Natali Gagro, Christina Lotzemer-Jentges
Client: Rijkswaterstaat Maaswerken
Consultants: Palte BV, Wetering Raadgevende Ingenieurs BV

Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets
Site plan – click for larger image
Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets
Basement floor plan – click for larger image
Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets
First floor plan – click for larger image
Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets
Roof plan – click for larger image
Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets
Cross section – click for larger image
Regiocentrale Zuid by Wiel Arets
Long section – click for larger image