On the border of the densely-packed downtown Zwolle and a green expanse of parkland, Bierman Henket architecten have completed an unusual new addition to the Museum de Fundatie. This former courthouse built in 1838 in neo-classical style was in need of expansion but with a constricted site it was agreed that extending upwards was the architects’ only option.
The result is an elliptical volume designed by Bierman Henket architecten and placed delicately atop the existing structure, encrusted with 55,000 pale blue ceramic tiles and pierced with a large glazed panel. On 31 May, Princess Beatrix officially opened the museum and the public began to flood into the extension.
Affectionately termed ‘the egg’ or ‘the cloud’ by the Museum de Fundatie, the direct contrast between old and new volumes is sure to split the critics and many local people already have their own quirky names for the project, including ‘the UFO’ and ‘the zeppelin’.
In total the volume creates an extra 1,000 sq m of exhibition space over two levels and a wide window pane at the front enables users to enjoy far-reaching views across Zwolle. Natural light pours through this glass sheet and reflects off the pristine white and grey interiors where visitors can peruse the modern art on display or enjoy a coffee in the restaurant.
Visitors reach the elevated extension pod through a glass lift system placed in a void which links the lower and upper atria. This open interior space enables the further dispersion of sunlight within as it enters through the large window pane.
Since reopening its expanded facilities approximately 6 weeks ago, the museum has reported an increase in visitor numbers by 5 times its previous figures. The museum was closed for one year during construction and has welcomed over 46,000 visitors since reopening on 1 June 2013.
One of the three opening exhibitions at Museum de Fundatie will be the work of Pieter Henket in a collection entitled ‘The way I see it’. Henket is the son of Hubert-Jan Henket whose practice Bierman Henket Architects completed the extension project.