If beavers had the tools to build in straight lines (opposable thumbs would help too), this wonderful geometric nature center is what they would construct. Called “The Oostvaarders,” the funky structure is situated in the Oostvaardersplassen nature preserve in Almere, The Netherlands. Drost + van Veen Architects dressed the building in prefabricated timber panels so that it sits serenely within its surroundings while still maintaining a bold, modern identity.
In order to best teach visitors about the preserve, the center is situated at a spot where the various landscapes – land, water, forest and fields – meet. From the inside, guests can look out onto the lake or trees from a multitude of framed-view windows. Educational sessions are held in the center’s classrooms and panorama-room, and afterwards, visitors can head to the restaurant for a bite to eat. And last but not least, at the top of the Oostvaarders, an exterior space called the “crow’s nest” allows people to take in the breathtaking views.
Since the Oostvaarders was built to celebrate nature, it only makes sense that it should protect and tread lightly on the landscape too. “In order to minimize a disruption in the surrounding natural environment, the building time was reduced to a minimum,” explains Drost + van Veen. “Therefore, the building is constructed in prefab, massive, wooden walls and floors. In addition, wood is a light material with a high isolation.” In addition to their conscious design, the prefab panels are fit together in a dynamic, textured manner that evokes the bark of a tree, tying the center back in with the woodlands that surround it.
Photos by Ben te Raa