The site for the new Town Hall in Seckach is constrained from all sides. Two existing buildings, originally constructed as separate schoolhouses, served as an ad-hoc container for civic function for 90 years.
A rail line connecting the Odenwald to the rest of the state of Baden-Württemberg draws a diagonal boundary on the east perimeter of the site, and parking that serves the public as well as those who attend services at the Church of St. Sebastian, immediately to the south, hems the site to the west. A significant slope results in an existing three-story façade to the street, while to the rear of the site, the buildings are two stories tall. The project is the result of an invited competition. In the context of two historically protected buildings the useable area of the existing city hall was to be doubled. The dialogue between the two existing buildings and the new expansion became the leitmotiv of the project.
The demolition of modifications from the 1950’s and 70’s restores the historic structures to their former proportion. A surgical removal of improvised additions created a 10 -meter gap allowing the insertion of a new building, housing council chambers, offices, and service facilities. Two public meeting rooms provide seating for 90 and 20 people, respectively, and expanded archive spaces provide for the future growth of the community. The split-level plan of the new building connects the two extant structures which formerly had no single level in common. This architectonic framing of history takes the form of a literal gap between buildings – necessary to underpin existing foundations – and a transformation of the familiar palette of regional materials.
The new building is visually separated from existing construction through a continuous glazed slot from the pavement to the roof edge. To mark the contrast between modern and existing facilities, the new structure is clad with a locally-quarried stone and the fenestration is expansive. The former facades of the existing buildings have been preserved and are visible from the inside of the new building.
The roof of the new structure forms a hyperbolic paraboloid, allowing the appearance of a flat roof at the front and rear of the building while providing a maximum pitch of 12 degrees along the depth of the site. A common entrance with foyer was created between at the base of the new addition. A transparent lobby opens to a new town square and is an inviting orientation point for the entire complex. The result is a modern municipal complex with a new plaza, which defines the town center the first time. This ensemble gives a new character to the village of Seckach.