• 1993


  • 1994

    Start of Construction

  • 1994

    Completion & Opening


Design concept


  • 900 m² Gross Floor Area
  • 4 300 m³ Volume

Project Description

A Rooftop pavilion for temporary exhibitions

The commission for the East Pavilion of the Groninger Museum was designed to house the museum collection which ranges from 16th Century to Contemporary Art.

The galleries are part of a larger museum complex, commissioned by the city of Groningen, with an overall design done by Studio Mendini, Milano. Guest architects were: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU (Vienna/Los Angeles), Philippe Stark (Paris) and Michele De Lucchi (Milano).

Our concept for the East Pavilion was based on the idea of unfolding positive and negative space, and extending the rooftop structure over the water to the canal bank: effectively extending the museum towards the city.

The concept’s intention is to establish different levels from which to experience art. The "inside skin" of the flexible exhibition system, as well as the varying levels of the circulation allow the exhibited art to be observed from different points of view.

The design process involved overlaying three-dimensional studies of volumes of natural and artificial light with the original sketch drawing of the pavilion concept. This process of layering resulted in a sketch model that used the power of the first emotional imprint, or psychogram of the concept, to dissolve the space. The design process further attempted to capture the random liveliness of this sketch model and translates its sculptural details to the scale of the actual building.

As first developed in our project for the Folly No.6 in Osaka in 1989, a process of digitizing was employed which allowed us to maintain the original gesture of the sketch model and fix it precisely within a 3-dimensional grid. This digital model was then enlarged step-by-step in order to consider structural and spatial details, and ultimately was used directly in the production of the Pavilion parts.

The sketch drawing, originally imprinted on and used in the process of overlaying which resulted in the sketch model, was similarly enlarged digitally from the scale of the model to the actual scale of the building and painted on the steel plates as a layer of tar.

In order to work within the tight budget and timeframe of the project it was decided to use the local method of shipbuilding to construct the primary elements of the East Pavilion. Construction drawings of the geometrically complex steel plates were made directly from the computer model allowing the shipyard to construct the 300 tons of steel double-shelled panels enclosing the Pavilion extremely precisely.
The steel plates arrived on site via barge prefabricated with structure, insulation, paint and edge details already complete. This streamlined process resulted in a very quick and economical construction term and a building whose all-welded details are more similar to those of a ship than a building.

One has to imagine that it will take 100 years for the steel plates to rust away, but since the drawing is done in tar it will not rust. After 100 years it will be the Museum that is gone and only the sketch that remains.


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