Rob Krier had drawn up an urban-design plan for the town centre of Bergen op Zoom. Part of this plan was a large and rectangular square with a formal character, whereas squares in Brabant towns have often grown very organically and are not very geometric in shape. The commission to design a large shopping structure for this area therefore provided an occasion to present a new proposal for the square. Making the public space smaller and increasing the buildable surface created a more intimate, triangular square with narrow streets. This shrinkage of the public space makes for a better linkage to the morphology of Bergen op Zoom, and also made the project more financially feasible.
A building complex was then designed for this area, with three storeys of shops and three parking storeys. The parking garage was too big to build underground and was therefore placed on top of the shops. The parking storeys are hidden behind a large bulbous roof of perforated metal. Because the shape and material of this enormous roof are abstract, it is impossible to gauge its size, and people do not perceive it as too big for its surroundings. A crenellated tower was placed against this building, to house the stairs and lift of the parking garage. This tower leans slightly forward, so that the street narrows at this point, creating an exciting transition to the square.
Rear sides or blank walls have been completely hidden from view. The façades of the building respond in different ways to the parcel allotment and scale of the surroundings: on the street and square side the building is clad with louvers, and there are arcades with brick columns. There is a glass lobby in front of the tower wall, with an entrance to the large-scale shops. On the side of the pedestrian street, the large volume presents itself as a series of smaller buildings. Here the building has been divided into different façades, so that one cannot tell that it was design in one go, by one architect.
[A] Sjoerd Soeters
[P] Shops & parking garage
[G] 22,700 m2
[C] Bouwfonds MAB Ontwikkeling CVG BV