Amersfoort, De Zonnehof
Martijn Honselaar, Joep Mol, Paul Peters, Urban Affairs
De Zonnehof, centre for modern art
BELOW GROUND LEVEL
BELOW GROUND LEVEL
Extension of De Zonnehof
Once upon a time the Rietveld pavilion was idyllically bordered by a leafy park that stretched out behind the De Zonnehof villa. In the early sixties, however the pavilion became overshadowed by offices. A diffuse inner courtyard has come into being and the pavilion, despite its much-praised beauty, has become just another box. The pavilion was built in 1959 as an exhibition centre and accommodates De Zonnehof, the centre for modern art. Amersfoort is in need of a larger and more inclusive centre for modern art and consequently De Zonnehof wishes to expand by some 3,500 m2. This means a sevenfold expansion of the existing building! There is no space on the square for this extension without dominating the existing pavilion.
Lowering the ground level in some places by more than 20 metres will create a space for a cube-shaped extension of artificial turf. This rounded boulder concept is kept separate from the walls and the floor of the main construction, creating a sublime space underneath, in which the weight is tangible. The lump under the ground is treated as such and is hollowed out, cloven, drilled through and planed profusely, resulting in caves, caverns, shafts and tunnels. But because the square under the building is always on the move, it is left unresolved as to whether it is a below-ground mountain landscape or a system of opencast mines. Furthermore the mass does not behave like a building with a univocal delineation of the interior. It is rather a linking element of exhibition pavilions in a luxuriant three-dimensional garden, where the visitor can continuously move inside and out. The former park is as it were - crumpled up into a green ball and now forms the front garden of the Rietveld pavilion. De Zonnehof is transformed from pavilion into park - a park with pavilions.