Visitor center for nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen
Total engineering, cancelled after preliminary design phase
Mohammed Al-Khalili, Olaf Gipser, Simona Puglisi, Jesse Zweers with Peter Mensinga (Arup), Klaas Jan Wardenaar (Vista)
Arup (engineering), Basalt Bouwadvies (quantity survey), Both Bouwadvies (technical descriptions), ProXYZ (permits), Rietbroek Oudijn Ontwerpers (exhibition), Van Elst Roelofs Plancoordinatie (fire safety), (VHS Mixed Media Solutions (exhibition), Vista (landscape and ecology)
The Oostvaardersplassen is a young and for its uniqueness internationally renowned nature reserve of ca. 5,600 hectares in the Dutch province Flevoland, a reclaimed piece of land just half an hour by car outside of Amsterdam. Being as wild wetland landscape and bird reserve the birthplace of the novel and influential Dutch concept of “nature development”, the Oostvaardersplassen will soon be connected with adjacent areas to form a 15,000 hectare large and spectacular nature and recreation area, called Oostvaardersland.
The building is based on three key elements that oscillate between architecture and landscape. First, the spatial organization of the floor plan interweaves landscape with architecture, outside with inside. The four characteristic types of wetland vegetation (from shallow water to bushy forest) enter deep into the building’s interior via a layout typical for the polder landscape. Second, the water roof is reminiscent of the former sea level of the Zuiderzee. Third and mostly visible from afar, the observation tower refers to the Dutch land reclamation technology and will offer to future visitors a series of lookout platforms up to 22 m above ground.
The commission was won as a first prize in an international two-stage competition and received much attention. In 2011, under the influence of the financial crisis and a changed political agenda by a new government, the commission was put on hold after the preliminary design was completed and approved. The commission was cancelled finally in 2016.