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.
C-City in Kerkrade, The Netherlands by Shift architecture urbanism
November 4th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Shift architecture urbanism
Construction of the museum district C-City, designed by Shift Architecture Urbanism, has started in Kerkrade, Netherlands. Two new public facilities, Cube and Columbus, will be added to the existing, highly successful Discovery Centre Continium. With these additions, Kerkrade, a town at the Dutch-German border, will host the first design museum in the Netherlands, the first inverse planetarium in Europe as well as a wide range of new amenities for the public. Shift Architecture Urbanism’s design is an urban ensemble defined by clearly recognizable volumes, all connected by a vast, underground public space. C-City will mark the entrance into Kerkrade for both train passengers and visitors arriving by car from the main access road. The new museum quarter will open its doors at the end of 2015, with a total budget of 20,5 million Euro.
C-City creates a trinity of complimentary public amenities: Continium, Cube and Columbus, combining technology, science, design in one museum district. Continium is a discovery centre for science and technology, whilst Cube will be a design museum consisting of design expos and labs. Columbus will house a unique Earth Theatre in the shape of an inverse planetarium and a 3D cinema in partnership with National Geographic.
Together these elements become a “museum without boundaries”: the museum becomes an interactive workshop in which visitors are regarded as participants rather than spectators, citizens who discover the world and their place in it through interaction, participation and debate. Hence, in addition to museum galleries, C-City also offers shared facilities for conferences, events, workshops and education.
The new design consists of a composition of strong solitary volumes: a sphere, a beam and a cube. Their pure geometry and omnidirectional orientation is a response to the amorphous and introvert character of the existing museum. A large part of the 7,500 m2 new program is located underground: The sunken square, the main quality of the existing museum, will be extended underneath the new volumes, creating a continuous underground landscape connecting all the facilities of C-City. In addition to the new museum square, titled C-Square, the underground area consists of a central entrance hall, a restaurant, student labs, a patio and tunnels towards Cube and Columbus.
All stairs, walls and floors of the underground landscape are made of red concrete to emphasize the connecting character of the space. It implies an excavation which – together with the experience of descending into the underground space – refers to the mining past of Kerkrade.
Cube, the design museum, is literally a cube. A glass plinth creates the illusion of a volume hovering above the red underground landscape. Together with the patio, the glass plinth allows for natural light in the temporary exhibition space which is located underneath the cube and it creates view lines towards the public space. Cube is a vertical exhibition machine offering its programmers maximal freedom and flexibility. The various floors of the building create space for a changing set of design labs and exhibitions. Its top floor offers a multifunctional event space with panoramic view over the landscape of Limburg and Kerkrade. C-City will program the Cube in collaboration with the prestigious German Red Dot Award, the Design Museum in London and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.
Columbus is a spherical building, half of which protrudes above ground and half of which is hidden beneath it. The lower half is occupied by the Earth Theatre, where a spectacular, 16-meter wide, hollow projection sphere can be viewed from two rings of glass balconies. This inverted planetarium offers visitors the experience of an astronaut looking back towards planet earth. In the upper half of the Columbus Sphere, underneath the dome, the first National Geographic 3D cinema in Europe will show movies and documentaries produced by National Geographic.
An important part of the communal functions in C-City are located in the 80 meter long beam volume, hovering above the sunken entrance zone. The beam serves as a giant canopy for the pedestrian route from the train station through the museum district towards the town centre. The beam rests on a minimal amount of columns, emphasizing its floating character whilst keeping the entrance hall underneath as open as possible.
The public walkways crossing through C-City make the museum district part of the public space of Kerkrade. From the walkways, pedestrians can see lively areas of C-City such as the entrance hall, C-Square and the temporary exhibition hall underneath Cube. A north-south axis, which leads right through the entrance hall, connects C-Square to the district’s forecourt. This allows the museum square to be an extension to the public realm of Kerkrade, while also allowing train passengers to wait in C-City for their connection. The combination of public transport with a museum district fits perfectly into the ambition of a “museum without boundaries”: even passers-by become participants.
Specific facade materials were chosen to underline the individual character and pure form of each building . Columbus’ seamless cupola is sprayed in concrete and covered with a white coating and an abstracted motif of planet earth. Cube is draped with a reflective curtain of polished aluminium enhancing the distinctly vertical character of the museum. The beam is clad in a black modular facade with protruding ribs creating a heavy visual impact to enhance the illusion of the volume floating. The industrial facades of the buildings are in contrast with the warm, earthy atmosphere of the red concrete underground areas.
C-City is an initiative of Hans Gubbels, director of the Discovery Center Continium. Shift Architecture Urbanism designed the project together with ABT (engineering), Bureau Bouwkunde (fire safety and building code advice) and Bremen Advisors (MEP). The construction is made possible with support by the province of Limburg and the municipality of Kerkrade, both in the Netherlands. C-City is an abbreviation of Creative City and the C symbolizes the first letter of all three museums and the essential concepts of the museum district: culture, creativity, collective, coal, connectivity and co-creation.
Shift Architecture Urbanism is a Rotterdam based design office that focuses on the fields of architecture, urbanism and spatial planning. The office combines a broad engagement in space production with precise and project-specific design interventions. Recent projects are the Faculty Club for Tilburg University, a housing project in Tilburg and various urban planning and research projects, among which Studio Sport, which was exhibited at The New Institute in Rotterdam.
In the past few years, the office and its partners have received several awards and nominations, including the Charlotte Köhler Prize, Prix de Rome, Archiprix International and Archiprix NL.
Harm Timmermans (1975) and Oana Radeş (1977) founded the office in 2005. In 2010 Thijs van Bijsterveldt (1981) joined the principal team.
All three partners teach and lecture at different universities and schools throughout the Netherlands, such as the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Tilburg, the Design Academy Eindhoven, Technical University of Eindhoven and the Rietveld Academy Amsterdam.
Contact Shift architecture urbanism