De Appel Arts Centre, a reknown centre for contemporary art, has found a new home in a 18th century sailor's society building.
The building has a long history of sailors, socialists and hippies, whose stories are part of the building. Every new user adapted the building to its needs.
This resulted in a beautiful pastische of historical and less historical additions, changes and fashionable colors.
This transformation history of the building was the base for our design strategy. On top of the existing historical layers, a new layer was addded without removing the previous one.
We decided to celebrate this. Our design left all previous identities present, just adding a flexible, lightweight inner layer, useful for contemporary art. This layer has been left visibly seperate from the monumental context of the building, allowing for our strategy to be read.
By removing the large staircase on one side , we created an extra, 7m high exhibition space.
By adding a new sculptural staircase on the other side, all levels - cafe exhibition space and library are connected in one gesture.