The roof of this town hall symbolises the transition from traditional to modern. The red to green colour gradient represents the rejuvenation of the building with a new extension.
Symbol of a turning point in form and colour
The Alsatian commune of Bernwiller in France near the German border has just over 1000 inhabitants. The town hall in the Ammertzwiller district was to be renovated and extended with a new building right next to the local church.
The administrative building of the small region has many functions: most importantly, it needed larger administrative facilities, but it also serves as a registry office, meeting room and reception hall for various events. An architectural competition was held to find a design that would carefully renovate the historic building while at the same time link it to a modern new building providing enough space for all these requirements.
„The seemingly random transition from red to green resembles crocodile skin and was precisely planned in advance“ - Thomas Weulersse, architect
Combining the old with the new
The historic part of the building dates back to 1880 and is typical of buildings in the region. The outside of the extension has an impressively exciting roof shape. Inside, the space was arranged around a large staircase that leads from the reception area right up to the attic.
Architect Thomas Weulersse wanted to give the impression of a "cathedral with a visible attic". He wanted the transition between the roof of the building and extension to be clearly noticeable and generate a better connection between the town hall and the public: a nuanced red on the renovated older building stands for continuity and reflects the traditional roofs of the village. A plainer, uniform green on the extension speaks to courage and modernity.
Choice of colours
An exact prototype of the roof was submitted to the council for approval and the specially developed green glaze was also agreed. Architect Thomas Weulersse explains: "The seemingly random transition from red to green resembles crocodile skin and was precisely planned in advance". The flat Koramic roof tile allows for a classic beaver tail double-lap pattern, which the architect found most suitable for both the renovated main building and the extension. However, certain challenges related to the ever-increasing slope of the roof had to be overcome: "The trickiest aspect of the job was achieving the draped effect and overcoming the steeper gradients", says the architect.
The roof tile was custom-made for this purpose. Clay roof tiles are often used in Alsace: "Clay stores heat and at the same time keeps the interior cool", says the architect. This low-maintenance tile ages naturally and will blend harmoniously into the townscape – it has proved to be the ideal sustainable solution for the new town hall.
Facts & Figures
Project name: Extension of the town hall, Bernwiller, France