The Museum De Fundatie in Zwolle was completed by Dutch based Bierman Henket Architects. The project is located on the border between the mediaeval city centre and the open 19th century parkland with its canals, has been extended with a spectacular volume on the roof of the former Palace of Justice.
The courthouse on Blijmarkt was designed by the architect Eduard Louis de Coninck in 1938 in the neo-classical style. De Coninck intended this style of architecture to symbolise the unity in the legislation of the new kingdom. The building has a double symmetry with a monumental entrance and a central entrance hall extending over two floors.
The museum has an extraordinary collection including works by Rembrandt, Saenredam, Turner, Monet, Rodin, Van Gogh, Mondrian and Van der Leck. In addition, the museum organises modest, but much discussed exhibitions. Under Ralph Keuning’s directorship these temporary exhibitions became so successful that extension of the museum became unavoidable. Despite the inherent problems of extending the palace in the historical city centre, the museum resisted the temptation to abandon this national monument and opted to extend it.
In the same way that the Palace of Justice links two worlds in a horizontal direction, Henket couples the classical, static building with the fluid dynamics of a contemporary extension in a vertical direction. The superstructure, just like the substructure, is symmetrical in two directions, but the shape rather resembles a rugby ball. Together, the two totally-different volumes form a new urban entity. There are also two contrasting interpretations in the interior: the classical succession of rectangular museum halls below versus the fluid, open spaces in the elliptical volume above.
Straight through the existing building, eight steel columns stand on eight individual foundations. The columns support the new extension – with two exhibition floors that total 1,000 m2. So, structurally and architecturally, the extension is independent of the old building.
The extension – also called the Art Cloud – is clad with 55,000 three-dimensional ceramic elements produced by Koninklijke Tichelaar in Makkum. Together, the mixed blue-and-white glazed tiles measuring 20x20 cm and 10x10 cm, form a subtle surface which, depending on the weather, merges into the heavens. On the northern side daylight floods into the two, new exhibition floors through a large, glazed pane in the tiled superstructure. Inside, visitors have a panoramic view of the city.