Text description provided by the architects. At the end of 2014, in collaboration with contractor Somass, lab03 won the competition for a new visitor centre next to the historical castle Assumburg in Heemskerk (The Netherlands). The new centre became necessary following the reconstruction of the historical castle garden and the subsequent increase in the number of visitors. The building accommodates a general reception area, an office for the volunteers and a workshop. Construction was completed at the end of 2015.
The design restores the symmetry of the forecourt by positioning the building on the remains of the former stables. In this way, the central axis of the forecourt is again flanked by two functioning service buildings: The Orangery and the new visitor centre. In time, the openings in the historical wall will be opened again and the visitor centre will then be optimally connected to the forecourt.
By the positioning, the chosen outline and use of material, the building blends into the environment in a natural way. The new volume is set back from the existing monumental wall. By extending the roof over the existing wall an extra covered outdoor space is created. The new building adds a new layer with respect for the history of the site.
The entire public programme is located on the ground floor. By separating the reception area and the office spaces, both spaces can be used independently. The workshop is accessible from both the inside and from the outside. Above the workshop, in the attic, there is a space for the storage of fruit and vegetables from the garden.
Handcrafted buildings and modern installation techniques are well-suited to one another: the larch timber used in the construction was sawn in the wind-powered sawmill 't Jonge Schaap, nearby at the Zaanse Schans. The visitor centre is heated by a heat pump. As a result, making a gas connection unnecessary. When the solar panels are connected the building will be neutral in its use of energy. The old glass roof tiles provide extra light for the outdoor space.They light the space in a mysterious way, matching the atmosphere of the ancient castle.