From a distance, these hulking grassy pyramids might look like an ancient architectural mystery—but don’t be fooled. Underneath their green-roofed facade hides the contemporary and light-filled Biesbosch Museum, a recently renovated museum that celebrates the Biesbosch region’s unique culture and history. Located on a man-made islet in Werkendam, the Netherlands, the museum recently reopened following Studio Marco Vermeulen’s renovations.
Part land art and part building, the renovated Biesbosch Museum includes a new 1,000-square-meter wing comprising exhibition space, a restaurant, offices, and a visitor center. As part of the “depoldering of the Noordwaard,” the site’s existing dykes were dismantled to allow the waterways to take over the former landscape. As a result, the land was reshaped into an islet surrounded by water and wetlands that help treat wastewater and promote habitat for native fauna and flora. These changes are a sharp contrast with the museum’s original appearance as a collection of low-lying buildings topped with terra-cotta pyramid roofs overlooking an uninspired roundabout driveway.
Studio Marco Vermeulen retained the original building structures but expanded the museum’s footprint with a glazed extension to the southwest. All the buildings were made wind- and waterproof before the application of the green roofs. The added greenery blends the buildings into the tidal landscape, which are punctuated by earthworks that mimic the buildings’ pyramidal geometry. Visitors are also encouraged to explore the Biesbosch landscape and can access the rooftops via an elevated boardwalk.
“The multilayered story of the Biesbosch is told through a limited number of interesting themes,” write the architects on the museum exhibits. “In the presentation of the collection, these themes such as water management, ecosystems, osier and reed culture, life in the Biesbosch will be addressed. The existing collection of utensils is revived by exhibiting contemporary manner and linking to interesting stories. New communication tools and insights in the field of museum presentation will be applied, without making the exhibition a big ‘adventure spectacle’.”