Architecture firm MVRDV recently won a design competition for the city of Zaanstad’s new Cultural Cluster in the Netherlands. The proposed 7,500-square-meter building will house five cultural institutions within a single cubic structure. The Cultural Cluster will be punctuated with differently sized voids, with each shaped in the silhouette of a Dutch house and lined with different colored wood.
MVRDV’s Cultural Cluster was created as part of the city’s new masterplan, a design led by Dutch architect Sjoerd Soeters that showcases a “new Zaan style” with strong references to traditional Dutch design. The proposed building will neighbor Zaanstad’s city hall, created in the shape of an oversized Zaan house, and the Inntel hotel, which looks like a stack of green Dutch Houses. In order to continue this Zaan style, MVRDV designed each cultural institution in the shape of a Zaan house and then overlapped those differently sized and colored volumes inside the cubic and white Cultural Cluster building envelope.
“We started with a compact volume and then turned the typical Zaan house inside out, creating an urban living room,” says MVRDV co-founder and principal Jacob van Rijs. “On the exterior façade a wallpaper motif contrasts with interior spaces clad in the green wooden facades so typical of the Zaan region. The characteristic shape of the Zaan house returns as the shape of the building’s main atrium void, a cut-out within the larger volume.”
At the heart of the Cultural Cluster is the street-level Zaan Living Room, which will be the building’s largest space and clad in green wooden surfaces. The Living Room will offer retail, restaurants, and seating areas to attract commuters and passersby to the public meeting space. The Cultural Cluster will also house a film house, a library, a performing and visual arts centre, a pop music centre, a music school, a centre for design and a local radio station. A bicycle parking lot and underground road will be located beneath the building, which will be raised on a pedestrian square.