National Glass Museum in Leerdam gets an edgy extension courtesy of bureau SLA
The brainchild of Petrus Marinus Cochius – director of Leerdam glass manufacturers and founder of the Leerdam glass tradition – the Dutch National Glass Museum in Leerdam has, since its inception in 1850, become the Netherlands’ treasury, laboratory and centre of all things breakable. Some years after Cochius’ death in 1938, the museum was set up in the home of its creator, and when an opportunity arose five years ago to purchase an adjoining villa and expand the premises, bureau SLA were brought in to offer their esteemed architectural opinion.
Feeling that a simple conversion of this new property into administration facilities would too simple, bureau SLA suggested a more artistic approach – that the neighbouring buildings be joined via a series of translucent external passageways and both Cochius’ home and the additional villa be opened to the public with view to the full collection of glass, including that in storage. This would ensure a spacious exhibition facility and allow an easy interaction between staff and the visiting public, whilst the bridges themselves served as additional storage space, fitted with cases specifically designed for this purpose by Piet Hein Eek.
Four pedestrian bridges were constructed from several layers of polycarbonate paneling, with a translucent skin of grey, powder-coated, aluminium mesh designed to function ‘like a woman’s net tights; imperfections on the leg are smoothed over’. Internal lighting is thus able to diffuse through the structure, as the walls, ceiling and floors have all been constructed in this same fashion, at night reflecting the glow from an astonishing 9,000 pieces of glasswork housed within their walls. Contrasting sharply with the traditional architectural form of the original villas, the Open Storage bridges add a modern twist to the long-established museum.