"If you don't know the past, you won't get a grip on the future." This is one of the most famous quotes by German historian Golo Mann. This principle should also be close to the heart of the Limburg Historical Center. The HCL, consisting of the State Archives of the Province of Limburg, the City Archives of Maastricht and the Regional Archives of Heerlen, serves as an archive and repository for historical objects of the region. The new location: the former Christus Koningkerk church in Heerlen.
Special national monument
The national monument had been vacant since 2004, but has now been given a new function. The building consists of a cube-shaped hall with a smaller lower body that used to house the church hall. In order to make the monument sustainable, the facades remained untouched, while a parallel cube was placed in the center of the church, as if it was a "box within a box". The top two floors of this structure are intended for archive depots and other historical material.
Particularly strict fire protection requirements
Because of the building's archival function, particularly stringent fire safety requirements apply. In accordance with the building code and archive regulations, a minimum fire resistance duration of 60 minutes was established for the walls. In the church's original renovation plan, a rather elaborate solution was chosen, says project manager Detlev Keijdener of contractor Laudy Bouw. "We used double metal stud walls and void fill, and acoustic panels were to be installed in the space between the new 'box' and the existing building. That seemed a bit complicated, especially in terms of implementation. We then started looking for a simpler solution."
A simpler solution with Hebel
The project manager then came up with the idea of building a "box in box" construction with Hebel autoclaved aerated concrete. "I know Hebel from other projects; as a construction company, we use it regularly in non-residential construction. Thanks to Hebel's high fire resistance, a construction in combination with sandwich panels seemed to me to be a much simpler solution to meet the requirements of the building code and the archive law." And not just the fire resistance requirements. The stricter standards for burglary resistance and Rc value also played a role. "Combining these three requirements in one solution would be difficult, especially with gypsum board in this design." This is in stark contrast to a solution using Hebel wall panels, as Hebel is resistant to fire for up to 360 minutes. Another advantage of the walls is that acoustic panels can be easily attached to them.
Xella as a consultant
Laudy Bouw was advised by Xella throughout the project, Keijdener says. "We're familiar with Hebel, but this particular application raised additional questions for us. Fire compartments are normally located on the first floor. However, the archive is on the first and second floors. Xella advised us on the supports, connections to the floor slabs, and anchoring to the steel structure. We were also able to contact them at any time if we needed advice on details, slab thicknesses and recesses. This really sets Xella apart from other suppliers of building materials." Laudy Bouw and Xella worked together throughout the whole construction process, says the project manager. "From the bidding phase to the execution phase."
Greater comfort and speed of execution
Although the strict building codes were key in choosing Hebel, Keijdener also thought about implementation. "In the original design, which called for plaster walls, we could have only started building the inner box if the church had been waterproof and windproof. Now we didn't have to wait for that. After the steel structure was installed, we could immediately start building the Hebel walls in combination with sandwich panels. Only then was the roof closed." He speaks of a construction time of a few days instead of weeks if plaster walls were built. The client, the municipality of Heerlen, and the construction management supported the process and the decisions, Keijdener looks back.
Client satisfied with the result
"They are very satisfied with the result. The solution with Xella has contributed to the province's approval of the archive plan. In addition, we are now working with proven materials in terms of fire safety. Certificates are available for the connections between floors and lever walls as well as the corner connections. That provides additional safety." A nice thought for a building where the past gets a new future.