In the Netherlands, De Zwarte Hond was commissioned by real estate developer MWPO to create a central building for a neighborhood that would serve as a grocery store as well as a community meeting place. SuperHub Meerstad was opened in November 2022 with hopes to connect the Groningen district. The resulting building features a gorgeous glass facade with a soaring timber overhang and a welcoming place for get-togethers.

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Sunset reflecting against tall glass windows of meeting hub

Meerstad is a growing district of Groningen that is known for open space, greenery and a recreational lake called Woldmeer. Around the lake, a neighborhood with 5,000 new homes will be built in the next few decades. The designers of the Superhub Meerstad wanted to create a grocery store and community center to serve this new neighborhood. Quality of life and sustainability informed the design of this community center.

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Flat roof of a timber grocery store and meeting hub

The idea was to create a modern market hall. Furthermore, SuperHub is open and transparent to make it more welcoming. Supports for the structure were made of cross-shaped laminated wooden columns and beams. The effect is like a concert hall or cathedral, with soaring arches made from timber columns meeting in a high ceiling of twenty-nine feet (nine meters).

Rounded roof edge supported by timber beams

Additionally, this large space was intended to be flexible for other uses in the future. The large overhang extends sixteen feet (five meters) outside, sheltering the windows from the sun. Meanwhile, cross forms offer extra stability for the building to avoid extra wind-bracing infrastructure. Timber also reduces the climate impact of the structure over cement and other building materials while creating a warmer space.

Tall glass windows allowing natural light

SuperHub contains groceries and a cafe. However, it could be converted into a museum, community center, or even residential housing. The designers say this flexibility was intentional to make sure the building wouldn’t be torn down and create extra waste in the future. They call it future-proofing the community hub that can grow with Meerstad.

Inside timber grocery store with fresh fruits and a cafe

The roof of the SuperHub has space for solar panels and plantings that can increase biodiversity. In turn, it will create homes for pollinators. Built-in air treatment systems and heat and cold ground storage reduce energy use while balancing the indoor climate. The building was also built to withstand earthquakes common to the region. Therefore, it might serve an additional purpose in the future as a community resource center in the event of a natural disaster.

The store within the SuperHub was created as a pleasant place to shop and meet with friends to create an appealing alternative to grocery delivery. As the neighborhood grows, time will tell how the SuperHub evolves to meet the needs of the community, but it is certainly designed to do so.

+ De Zwarte Hond

Images via De Zwarte Hond