The Palace of Justice in Arnhem is a location of the Gelderland District Court and the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal. The building, designed by architect Sevenhuijsen, was commissioned in 1963. Since 2015, the building has had national monument status due to its great monumental and cultural-historical value. The judiciary has always moved with the times in terms of digital development, the role of the victim and other forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation. This places different demands and requirements on the design of a court’s public spaces and courtrooms.
In 2021, the decision was taken to renovate a large part of these spaces of the Palace of Justice in Arnhem (further PvJ). Besides the representative appearance, this will certainly involve functional and technical improvements for employees and visitors. Examples include more and better audiovisual and digital resources, improvement of acoustics and new furniture. A committee supervised the renovation from A to Z and made PvJ ready for years to come.
According to Jaap van ‘t Hul (housing consultant PvJ), the latest customer satisfaction survey showed that visitors and staff experienced insufficient privacy in the public areas. It gave prosecution and defence an uncomfortable feeling that they had to sit directly next to or opposite each other in the same room. In addition, consultation with a lawyer is not ideal in an open space. However, because of security concerns, it is necessary for the spaces to maintain their open character.
Jaap van ’t Hul – Housing Consultant
These experiences were taken into account in the program of requirements for the new furniture. The main points for the furniture were:
• Sustainability, reuse if possible
• Hygiene, good and quick cleaning
• Offering privacy without closing off completely for safety reasons
• Clearly visible that a certain part of the room is occupied
• More diversity in configurations, so that different parties do not have to sit close together
Cooperation between Desque and Casala
The experience of project designer Desque with Public Private Partnership projects (PPP) in the design of the law courts of Amsterdam and Den Bosch, among others, was the decisive factor for the PvJ to work with them. In addition, the offer with renders taking into account the monumental character and elements of the building really appealed to the PvJ. Desque recommended various Casala products because of the extensive possibilities for customisation on standard products. Desque and Casala have been working closely together for many years and pay close attention to meeting all the client’s furnishing wishes.
Bo Baalman (commercial project coordinator at Desque) says that after the contract was awarded, a kick-off meeting was planned for all those involved from the PvJ, architect Gabriëla Miksovska, dealer Desque and supplier Casala. During a tour of the Casala showroom, the proposed furniture was viewed, variants and options were discussed, as well as final fabric and colour choices were made. It was nice to meet face-to-face right at the start of the project, gain inspiration and make clear agreements with each other. According to all involved, this useful meeting definitely helped the project, and the cooperation in particular, to run smoothly.
The drawings and impressions proved to be a practical tool for communicating with the architect and client about the options and appearance of the choices. This gave those involved in the PvJ a realistic impression of the furniture in the space. The architect had a prominent role in the chosen arrangements, colours and placement in the space. Her starting point was that the furniture in combination with lighting and planting really needed to add value to the complete interior.
To this end, revitalisation of all the existing furniture unfortunately proved impossible. The furniture that initially served as a trial set-up was eventually given a final destination at the court location in Zutphen.
Desque proposed to use Casala’s modular seating system Bricks. With this, all desired upholstered seating arrangements can be made and the main requirements from the program of demands are met. Dutch designer Robert Bronwasser designed Bricks to create comfortable seating for an open space. In the semi-closed arrangements, people wait or confer with each other in peace. The materials used have a sound-damping effect and the ergonomic design offers optimal seating comfort. All the arrangements take into account the function of the furniture, the monumental character of the building and the existing interior elements.
In the various open spaces of the PvJ, Bricks setups feature straight and curved shapes, linear and semi-closed and always fitted with three different fabrics in natural shades. The steel base creates an open look. The upholstered armrests of the benches have a wooden top. The Bricks Meeting consultation areas are equipped with electrification to charge laptops, for example. Some of the consultation areas have a cut-out at the top for a viewing window. This allows you to see from a distance whether a set-up is occupied or free.
Trial placement and move-in
In the initial phase of the project, the trial placement of various Bricks setups for waiting and consultation started on the gallery of PvJ. Following the findings and new insights, some adjustments were made to the waiting furniture. It is always important to carry out the move-in of the new furniture with as little inconvenience to employees and visitors as possible. Especially when delivering to a PvJ, this requires extra attention.
From the start of the project, contact between the partners was excellent. From quotation, to trial placement to the final move-in of the furniture, the project went smoothly. The communication between Desque, Casala and those involved of the PvJ was clear and there was good cooperation.
The new layout of the PvJ can count on many positive reactions from both staff and visitors. From the floor counters to the central hall and from the consultation areas to the waiting rooms. Employees praise the clear layout of the rooms and furniture with comfortable, modern and practical features. Lawyers greatly appreciate that there are now more opportunities for confidential consultations between lawyer and client. Visitors feel more at ease and like not having to sit directly next to or opposite the other party. Thanks to the new layout, the atmosphere is businesslike and friendly. Jaap van ‘t Hul says that the renovation and refurbishment has been pleasant and that the court and the court of appeal confidently look forward to the results of the new customer satisfaction survey.