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The Kennemerland Visitor Centre & Conservation Laboratory: National Park Zuid-Kennemerland, North Holland, The Netherlands

Part 2 Project 2014
Matthew Webb
De Montfort University UK
The project is located in the heart of the coastal sand dunes of National Park Zuid-Kennemerland, thirty miles west of Amsterdam. The park consists of beaches, dunes, footpaths, cycle trails, forests and country house estates, which were once home to wealthy merchant traders in the 17th Century, as a playground for hunting and horse riding. Today the thirty-eight square kilometre park receives approximately two million visitors per annum, consisting of city dwellers visiting the park to hike, cycle, swim and horse ride. However the park’s main function is serving as an oasis for the wildlife of the Randstad urban conurbation.

The thesis aims to investigate architectural themes such as ‘emerging’ and ‘dissolving’, through the poetic narrative of the context, and interventions such as an inhabitable skin which allows the building to merge into its surroundings over time. This provides a canvas in which the building can dynamically ‘emerge’ and ‘dissolve’ from its site throughout the different seasons, whilst providing additional areas of settlement for the great variety of flora & fauna. The proposal, a Visitor Centre and a Conservation Laboratory, provides enhanced facilities to the area, contributing to the conservation of the nature reserve and dunes, whilst serving the locals and tourists who visit this unique setting by improving the commercial and educational opportunities, through convention spaces, catering, retail, and information resources.

The conservation laboratory allows the park to be efficiently monitored by its authorities, enabling them to control the reserve’s conditions, including flora and fauna populations, sand dune health, erosion, tidal levels, and the effects of tourism. The scheme is designed to work with the natural dynamics of the park and not to inhibit the surrounding context, producing a building that explores architecture and nature, working together in harmony. The secondary skin burying the scheme, blends the design with its environment, by capturing sand from the prevailing winds, stabilising the surrounding dunes, and promoting drifting through remobilisation. The variable porosity of this provides layers of complexity by allowing sand, flora and fauna to filter through, and populate these ‘cells’, creating a living building that adjusts symbiotically with its environment.

Matthew Webb


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