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Since the early 90s many large low-rise mono-functional suburbs have been built in the Netherlands, new towns that usually lack cultural or social infrastructure. The same applies to Vathorst, the new suburb near Amersfoort.
De Kamers is a private initiative. Regarding the pioneering years of Vathorst as a challenging social and cultural task, the initiators of the project de Kamers, a vicar and an artist, decided to create a place for ‘sociability, inspiration and expression’ in the area, with the generous support of many sponsors and the municipality.
The building and its activities are meant to grow with its growing surroundings over time, to offer space for various cultural activities and events such as theatre, film, and creative education. Its heart is the huiskamer, a public ‘living room’, meant to be a hospitable space for everybody.
The design consists of simple wooden volumes with cubic shapes and varying dimensions. These rooms are loosely put together as a casual, almost improvised composition that allows for multifunctional use and future changes. Special attention has been paid to the spatial character of each of the rooms, their proportions, materiality and use of daylight.
The extremely tight budget ?€“ the building is privately funded ?€“ led to the architectural decision to give clear priority to the interior rather than to the exterior. The use of sophisticated timber building systems, imported from Germany and Switzerland, guarantees a clear, simple and sustainable structure with high quality finishes and good spatial and acoustic properties, even without additional linings. Walls, floors and roofs of all ‘rooms’ will be constructed in timber, which offers the means to build a characteristic, flexible and adaptable structure in a very short time.
The exterior is clad with stained heat-treated timber boards, a new, environmentally sound procedure to make European softwood more durable. The plinth has been designed as an advertising, ever-changing band of hand-decorated panels covered with artwork, graffiti, posters and texts made by the users of the building themselves.
The composition of cubes implies the semi-enclosure of outdoor spaces. These ‘garden-rooms?€™ are regarded as being just as important as the indoor spaces and are used as outdoor stages, gardens and terraces. Here the colourfully painted plinth turns into a wainscotting of self-made wallpaper. The large sliding doors emphasise the direct relationship between indoors and outdoors and the inviting and open character of the project as a whole.
Contributed by ArchiTeam
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