(Photograph by Dirk van der Made)
Name: Glaspaleis (Glass Palace or Crystal Palace)
Architect: F.P.J. Peutz
Style: Het Nieuwe Bouwen
The Glaspaleis (in English: Glass Palace or Crystal Palace) is the name of former fashion house and department store Schunck in Heerlen, The Netherlands, built in 1935, which is now the cultural centre of the city. The original name is Modehuis Schunck (Schunck Fashion House), but it was soon nicknamed Glaspaleis, which is now the official name.
The architectural style is largely according to what is in the Netherlands known as het Nieuwe Bouwen, which corresponds roughly to Modernism, Bauhaus and International style. The visually most distinguishing aspect is the free-standing glass that covers three sides, which makes it even more transparent than the famous Bauhaus building in Dessau and is part of the natural climate control.
The purpose of the hypermodern, functional building was to create an atmosphere of a market, with all goods (cloth, clothes, carpets and beds) displayed in the shop instead of back in the stock-room, a rather revolutionary idea at the time. As were the shopping windows of the old shop (for such a rural town), an idea that was taken to the extreme in the new building. The result was a structure of stacked and covered "hanging" markets, protected against the elements by the free standing glass encasing.
The Glaspaleis is a good example of early modern architecture, made of glass, steel and concrete (except for some marble and copper on the ground floor). Each floor has about 30 mushroom-shaped pillars, ever narrower as one goes up the floors. Part of the multifunctionality lies in the fact that, apart from the back, there are no walls inside the building, creating not only an open atmosphere, but also leaving more freedom in filling in the space. None of the walls are load-bearing, neither the ones at the back, nor the basement walls, even though they are made of reinforced concrete, to resist soil (6-9 m) and water pressure, insofar as the pressure has not been absorbed by the outer walls of the insulation gaps (covered at street level) that are meant to protect the building against traffic vibrations and noise and for ventilation of the basement.
There is no front as such - this is only defined by the fact that one side faces the market square. At the moment the building is completely free-standing, almost surrounded by three squares. What can be regarded as the back used to be connected to the former shop, but that and all the other buildings at that side have since been torn down to extend the Emma square to the Glaspaleis.
The 30 x 30 m building consists of, from the bottom up, two cellars, ground floor, mezzanine, four more former shop-floors, two penthouse levels for the Schunck family, the lower of which was partly a semi-covered roof terrace with a restaurant, and an accessible top roof. At seven floors (eight floors in American parlance) and a height of 26.5 m, it was at the time the tallest building in Heerlen (not counting the tip of the church tower). It has been called a "palace for the people".
The pillars are mushroom-shaped for two reasons. The first is utilitarian; the floors were constructed beamless for better daylighting and, thus, light reflection (beams cast very long shadows). This has the additional advantage of simplifying the placing and moving of cables and lighting fixtures. And the mushroom shapes give an impression of greater height. The second, constructional, advantage is that the steel bundle reinforcement in two directions makes the structure equally rigid in all directions. Since future mining activity makes is impossible to predict, a large resistance in all directions to sagging is desirable.
Although Peutz built largely according to the International style he did not surrender completely to functionalism but used some wood for the interior and marble in the stairs at ground floor (which has since alas been removed). The columns are, for reasons other than functionality or construction, of different shapes and sizes at different floor levels - round on the ground floor/mezzanine and first floor and octagonal elsewhere and getting narrower as one goes up.
The rear, there used to be another building here.
All pictures and text from wikipedia.org
All pictures, exept one (the one following the text) by Dirk van der Made.