The jury voted unanimously for the vision proposed by Benthem Crouwel Architects for the renovation and expansion of Museum Arnhem. Considerations of the jury - representatives of the museum and the municipal authority - were the design’s clarity and simplicity, the preservation of the centuries-old lateral moraine, and the brilliant idea of incorporating a publicly open veranda into the new extension.
Benthem Crouwel Architects’ winning concept involves restoring Cornelis Outshoorn’s 1873 design in all its former glory. The museum’s unique location and the building’s characteristic qualities will be accentuated: the landscape will play a key role in the museum experience, certain rooms will be devoted entirely to ways of responding to art, and the dome will regain its original, spacious character.
The building’s original structure will become visible once more. As the symmetry of the existing building is reinstated, the existing architectural volume will be brought out in a way that is bold and immediately intelligible. With the demolition of the temporary east annex will come a better demarcation of the different sections of the building and their respective functions. Both wings will acquire new galleries overlooking the garden.
A new volume on the west side will follow the lines of the lateral moraine, thus reinstating the unity of the garden. The new wing will provide views of – and contact with – the landscape in a variety of ways: the lateral moraine with its vegetation, the gardens with their sculptures, panoramic vistas of the Rhine and the Betuwe, and the view of Oosterbeek railway bridge, not to mention Arnhem’s grand skyline. In contrast to the existing annex, the new wing will extend on both sides, and will therefore be clearly visible from both Utrechtseweg and Onderlangs. The part that protrudes on the south side, above the lateral moraine, will accentuate the differences in height: looking out over the landscape, you will have a sense of hovering above the trees.
The jury report states: “The clarity of vision and the alternating views of art and landscape envisaged by Benthem Crouwel greatly appealed to the jury. A strip with separate rooms and connecting areas will build in natural pauses. The museum enthusiastically welcomes elements such as a delightful view of the sculpture garden and fine vistas ... The winning design maximises the advantages of the museum’s unique selling point, its splendid location in the landscape with unparalleled vistas.
The steps bisecting the strip from east to west will be open to the public, offering visitors a ‘window on the river’ as the Rhine gallery does today. This idea in particular delighted the jury. Visitors approaching the museum from Arnhem’s Central Station and along Utrechtseweg will be alerted by the steps leading up to this window to the presence of a remarkable spot there. The steps will also function as a stage for performances in the museum garden. The jury sees the overall design as possessing strong internal logic and as inserting an exclamation mark in the landscape."
Saskia Bak (Director, Museum Arnhem): “We are extremely enthusiastic about the vision presented by Benthem Crouwel Architects. It offers scope for superb exhibitions. Moreover, Museum Arnhem will become a wonderful environment and a great place to spend one’s free time. The design will also inspire the museum to do more in the realm of crossover programming. We look forward to enabling our visitors to enjoy the sculpture garden in the winter months as well as in the summer."
Rots Bouw has received the provisional award to start construction work by the end of 2019, so that the building will be ready by the end of 2021. The entire renovation will cost over €23 million. The museum will acquire an additional 550 m2 of exhibition space, a new entrance hall, and improved facilities for the public.