• Prix de Rome
  • Arnhem
  • NL
  • 1995

The Prix de Rome 1995 demands a contemporary designed public space in a setting of great natural beauty.

1. The existing buildings are demolished, creating an open space in the woods. The large existing open space in the museumpark is made visible from the municipal road.

2. The open space is structured by a projected cross.

The north-south axis of the cross defines the inside and outside of the museum, the east-west axis of the cross defines an accessible and inaccessible part of the open space. The crossed space links the municipal road with the existing open space and the main access of the museum, establishing the important spatial meaning of these elements. In doing so the crossed space itself becomes a spatial referential point in the urban layout of the museum and adjacent grounds.

The cross is materialized by means of the landscape. The edges of the woods are condensed by planting trees to increase the contrast with the open space, while solitary trees in the open space establish the spatial continuity of the woods. The inaccessible part of the open space is planted with heather, creating a purple surface that is characteristic for this part of the Netherlands. The accessible part of the open space is made out of white sand. An incision in the landscape reveals the sloping of the ground.

3. A second cross, a three-dimensional concrete construction, is placed in the incision, on the boundary of inside and outside, defining the place to enter the museum and linking it to the open space and other structuring elements of the museum.

The cross defines several architectural spaces, identical in their architectural form and materialization, but different in size, openings and relation with the landscape. The spaces are alternately entered from the periphery and the center of the cross. The construction has got its own scale that does not refer to any human scale. The concrete is colored sky-blue and polished.

4. The interior as well as the exterior of the architectural spaces is clad with slightly mirrored glass-panels, creating a series of ‘untitled spaces’.

In the interior as well as on the exterior of the building the surrounding landscape is reflected and thus artificially duplicated on the matrix of glass-panels. The reflected image of the landscape in the interior brings the landscape into the building and projects the occupants and programmatical functions of the building into the landscape. The occupants of the building are made aware of their being and of their relation with the landscape and the architectural space. Entering the museum by descending the monumental stairs one sees oneself reflected in the outside of the museum. Large glass sliding doors divide and connect the different spaces in the building. When closed the doors reveal parts of the concrete construction.

The reflected images create different interior spaces and facades on the building, depending on whether they’re related to the heather-, woods-, in- or outside of the open space. The reflected images, and thus the building, change with the weather, the season or with programmatical alternations. Different shades within the building, caused by the different sizes and characteristics of the spaces, influence the intensity of the reflected images, creating an even more ambiguous relation between the architecture and its context. At night the facade looses its reflection and the contents of the building is fully revealed, duplicated by the interior reflections. The design and partition of the glass-panels relate the concrete structure to the ground beneath, the sky above and the human scale.

5. The project is presented only in horizontal and vertical sections, the most neutral and appropriate means for representing architecture.