Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Visitors Centre at the Niederwalddenkmal in Rüdesheim, Rhein by René van Zuuk Architects
June 10th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: René van Zuuk Architects
The Middle Rhine Valley is characterized by its historical towns, castles, vineyards and indeed the Rhine which meanders between the undulating landscape. 1.8 million people visit the area yearly arriving by bus, car or cable car.
The visitors are greeted by views over the vast countryside which houses the Rhine. There is a bizarre combination of historical buildings and tourist amenities. Unfortunately, the historical buildings, especially the Niederwalddenkmal, are visually dominated by the cafe and cable car station. The cafe scars the landscape with its angular building type and foreign materials which detracts from the monument which acts as the main attraction to the majority of tourists visiting the Rhine. The signs that currently litter the landscape illustrate the complexity of the scattered arrangement of the amenities, by housing them all in one modest building the signs can be retired.
The existing stone retaining walls blend seamlessly into the environment; it is on this premise that the concept of the proposal is conceived. This type of stone is used extensively in the surrounding area, bordering roads, a base for the Niederwald monument and the prominent material used for the Knight’s hall – in using this stone as a base material it gives the proposal a wider urban context. The existing buildings demonstrate that using a varied pallette of materials doesn’t fit with the landscape.
The aim of the project was to weave the new visitor centre into the landscape quietly with no major architectural expression, thus avoiding coming into competition with the Monopteros. To create a cubic form is therefore unfavourable and so the design is over one floor partially hidden underground and extending the existing stone wall.
Horizontal windows and curved walls lead vistors to the main entrance, this is marked at the middle of the largest bay. The giftshop and information are to the left and the cafeteria to the right. In the rear of the building are the toilets which divide the shop and the cafeteria, they can be entered by either side or act independently via the main entrance. The existing cafe is replaced by a terrace which provides spectacular views across the Rhine.
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