LocationGroningen, The Netherlands
Text description provided by the architects. Architectonic compactness The concept was to install a huge piece of furniture. This intervention in situ effects a number of structural improvements to the study centre, the art lending library and the exhibition space. This huge piece of furniture punches through the façade and thus it also marks the entrance from the street, where it presents itself as a cross-section in the screen. Behind this ‘frontage’ it guides visitors to the lending counter and the study centre on the ground floor, and then via the ramp-staircase to the art library on the floor above.
This huge piece of furniture integrates all these functions and movements in a single form. It leads visitors past the zigzag table, the ‘communicator’, the round table, the ramp-staircase, the stair-cupboard, the ‘fort’, the hanging cupboards and the undulating floor. The design assimilates all the functions in a hyper-functional way and ‘freezes’ them in a permanent form.
The art of omission The exhibition spaces with the offices behind them stand adjacent to the area where the mega piece of furniture stretches out. These already existed, and only a few strictly functional changes were made, such as moving the doors. This part of the Centre for the Visual Arts (CBK) is the ‘free zone’, where the user should be able to do as they please because of the many changing exhibitions. The signature of the architect is deliberately omitted here. In this zone, the art of omission prevails in the literal sense, exemplified by the dismantling of wooden details on columns and railings, so that the building is as bare as possible. The floor of the exhibition space, which is painted grey, is the only coordinating link with the other parts of the CBK.
Transformation over time Since there is an open connection between the two zones and they overlap, there is interaction between them. They do not remain isolated. A new function comes into being between the two zones, with the possibility of using the ramp-staircase as a podium or as a bench. Users sense this ambiguity. They learn to deal with a field of tension between freedom and dogma, between consumption and production, which prompts discussion about modes of presentation. The differentiation and the openness create a situation in which the CBK is repeatedly confronted with its objectives and the question of how best to achieve them.