Shift Architecture Urbanism has broken ground on the C-City (Creative City) museum district in Kerkrade. Host to the Netherlands’ first design museum and Europe’s first planetarium, the new district will be formed as an “urban ensemble defined by clearly recognizable volumes, all connected by a vast, underground public space.”
By the end of 2015, two new public facilities - Cube and Columbus - will compliment the existing and highly successful Discovery Centre Continium at the gateway of the city. Read on the learn more.
From the architects: 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.
LocationKerkrade, The Netherlands
Project ArchitectsThijs van Bijsterveldt, Oana Rades, Harm Timmermans
Design TeamPieter Heymans, Rene Sangers, Davide Prioli, Thomas Grievink, Dalia Zakaite
Construction ManagementBureau Bouwkunde
Execution ConstructionVan de Laar BV
Fire SafetyBureau Bouwkunde
Building Code AdviceBureau Bouwkunde
PhotographsCourtesy of Shift Architecture Urbanism