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Museum Voorlinden

Dutch Light

Kraaijvanger Architects

Dutch painting, especially during the Renaissance, is renowned for its masterful rendering of the particular quality of the light in the Netherlands, a diffused light that reflects off the perfectly flat surface of the North Sea. It’s the light we see in paintings of domestic scenes, landscapes and still lives. It’s also the light that reflects off the famous pearl, the milk being poured, or in the love letter by the inimitable Johannes Vermeer. This same light is the dominant feature of the Voorlinden Museum opened to the public last September in Wassenaar, a stone’s throw away from the North Sea. Funded by the Dutch corporate executive and art collector, Joop van Caldenborgh, to house and make available to the public his extraordinary contemporary art collection, it was designed by Dirk Jan Postel, a partner of the historic Rotterdam practice Kraaijvanger Architects. The building is a perfect purpose-built machine, every aspect carefully thought through to allow the Dutch light - sharp and cold but at the same time all-enveloping - to flood the 20 rooms making up the exhibition space. Work on the concept was started in 2009, the practice working in close collaboration with the client, one of the world’s most acclaimed connoisseurs of contemporary art. They were joined in 2012 by Arup, brought in as consultant on the combined natural and artificial lighting system, and overall system design. The building itself has a deliberately simple plan: six parallel walls clad in sand colored stone - a reference to the sand dunes along the North Sea shore - partitioning the interiors, whose full-height glazed lights open out onto the old grounds surrounding the Museum, creating a continuum between interiors and exteriors. Hovering above the walls, a bit like a magic carpet, is a double layer roof. The upper metal covering reflects the southen light while the lower layer diffuses it throughout the building. The unconventional roof beam and pillar...

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