Fire stations of the world: Houten Fire Station in Houten in The Netherlands
The Houten Fire Station (BrandweerKazerne Houten) was completed in 2000 and is situated at De Brug 2, 3991 LN in Houten, The Netherlands. The municipal authority in commissioned the Samyn and Partners practice to build a small fire station on a site surrounded by lots of green space. The Municipality of Houten has a hybrid fire fighting force consisting of four professional fire fighters and around sixty volunteers. The building agenda set a requirement that there should be space to accommodate six fire engines.
The theme in drawing up the design is the radical division of the roof structure from the internal organisation. It represents the idea of the shelter, the independence of the shell from the building itself. The choice of a parabolic form for the roof is the result of the search for elegance of form and also brings about an optimisation of the structure. The fast method of construction was a further significant factor favouring this choice at the fundamental design stage.
There is a two-way split of the interior. The south side has been conceived as a completely transparent space in which just glass has been used. Here, the fire fighting apparatus is kept in what resembles a large shop window.
This barely heated hall is intended to serve as a climatic buffer zone, both in winter and in summer. All the other functions have been gathered together in the northern half of the building, a construction built of loadbearing brickwork. From the open corridors, there is a view onto the fire engines.
The ground floor houses showers, changing rooms and the sanitary provisions as well as storage rooms for mechanical equipment. A conference room and a cafeteria for the fire fighters are situated on the first floor.
The office spaces are located on the second floor with storage rooms for technical equipment on top.
In this socially problematic area of the city, it was asked to the 2 200 five to seven years old schoolboys and schoolgirls of the 22 schools of the city to represent the epic of the firemen on DIN A3 size panels. The 2 200 panels, changing colour as a flame from dark blue at the bottom over green a yellow to orange at the top, were laid out on the main brick wall of the fire station, renamed “house of the firemen”. It resulted into a magnificent hieroglyph-like composition protected by the glazed façade. The project gathered all the families of Houten, so that an emotional link was woven between the population and the building. In this way, the “house” is protected from the vandalism it was likely to suffer before that, in each family, a little brother or a little sister’s piece of artwork was integrated in the work.
The glazed façade incorporates large overhead gates designed to allow the fire fighting force to make a quick operational exit. The building’s length runs in an eastwest direction which allows the southern façade to incorporate photovoltaic cells. The fire station’s overall form appears as a modern variant on the traditional theme of the shed.