Kengo Kuma, one of four renowned architects competing to design the highly anticipated ArtA cultural center in Arnhem, has shared details about their shortlisted proposal. Enveloped in an “elegant filigree screen” of contextually prevalent red clay roof tiles, the “multileveled Arts Square” is designed to serve as “the living room of the city.” Its main programs, the Focus Film Theatre and Museum Arnhem, are united by a series of green terraces whose main purpose is to reconnect the inner city to its “unexploited resource,” the Rhine River.
“One of the most important urban goals of the new building will be the ability to reconnect the city center to the Rhine,” described the architects in a press release. “To do so we ‘raise the public street’ in stepped terraces to a higher level toward the riverside engaging the visitors in having nice view of the Rhine while experiencing the building. At the same time, we bring the water toward the city with a gentle cascade of water mirrors. This will create a tridimensional garden acting as a lively public space.”
In order to “organically” integrate itself within the city, the civic center addresses the city and river in two strategic ways. Facing the city center, the building embodies an “urban face” that is, as Kuma describes, “able to stand in the scale of the city context and to be recognizable with its own clear identity.” On the riverside, the building takes on a more delicate approach with a series of tridimensional “landscape terraces” that, gently and organically, bring the architecture into a more human scale.
“With the introduction of green terraces and waterscape along Newstraat, which can be perceived as a 'community garden' within the urban context, the architecture takes here a ‘landscape form’ relating itself, thus, to the river and to the landscapes surrounding the area and the city.”
“The two programs of Museum Arnhem and Film House are interlocked around the Arts Square without, however, presenting too defined boundaries. The Museum functions are located more toward the top floors of the building, while the FFA functions are located toward the lower floors, but the spaces are designed in a way that encourages the functions to overrun into the Arts Square and into each other spaces to create interesting contaminations.”
At the same time additional functions, including the lecture room, artist in residence studio, and educational rooms, are located around the arts square and enable multiple uses from both institutions.
“The Museum’s permanent collection is located on the third floor for the nature of its content, a more human scale space and the screen wrapping its façade is denser than in the rest of the building to protect from direct sun light. The temporary galleries, occupying the two top floors, are connected into each other with a double height space facing the city and allowing big artworks to be exhibited or specific installations to be made here.”
In contrast, “the Cinema projections rooms are located in the lower floors and closer to the riverside entrance of the building making easy use of the access for late night shows opening hours. Voids through the floors allow diagonal views from the public foyers of the cinema, for example, toward the riverside and the arts square. Although the main five projection rooms are located in a cluster layout and are close to each other, informal projections are possible through the building both indoor and outdoor, and external steps and terraces make possible to have projections in the river on a floating screen for special events.”
“On the lower floors the circulation spaces of the film theatre intersect with the back of house functions making also possible to show to the general public the behind the scenes of the building.”
LocationMeijnerswijk 5, 6841 HA Arnhem, The Netherlands
Design TeamKengo Kuma, Yuki Ikeguchi, Maria-Chiara Piccinelli, Maurizio Mucciola, Miruna Constantinescu, Mariko Kobayashi, Titouan Chapouly