Centraal Museum Utrecht

Design for the renovation and extension of a museum.

  • © Vercruysse & Dujardin
  • © Jan Kempenaers
  • © Vercruysse & Dujardin
  • © Jan Kempenaers
  • © Vercruysse & Dujardin
  • © Vercruysse & Dujardin
  • © Vercruysse & Dujardin
  • © Vercruysse & Dujardin

The intriguing, very specific qualities of the secretive, unruly and aloof character of the existing museum buildings and museum garden are preserved. They serve as valuable starting points. The building is composed of various elements, dating from different periods, with one part dating from the Middle Ages (which is graded), and another part from the beginning of the 20th century.
A simple intervention ensures the necessary clarification of access issues and provides a suggestion of permeability. The sunken, hardened surface of one part of the Nicolaaskerkhof (cemetery) running alongside the 1920’s wing becomes an independent horizontal element. Though in itself unobtrusively present, this element clearly indicates the entrance building, reveals the museum garden and bestows on the beautiful open space the square really is a new, upgraded status. The new entrance building, which is made entirely of glass and accommodates a bookshop on the first floor, situates the main entrance at the heart of the museum, where the porter’s lodge used to be and next to the original entrance. This single intervention restructures the whole of the complex. With its faceted eye covering the full 360° field of vision, like a spider at the centre of its web, the new entrance building acts as a rotating platform, serving all routes into the museum, and as the connection between existing rooms and new spaces. The museum garden, a haven and a reference point, is incorporated as a valuable element into the circulation flow outside the building.
The existing buildings are completely dismantled and restored to their original state, creating an interesting variety of high quality spaces all benefiting from natural light. New exhibition rooms are built at basement level, which were originally planned as part of a Rietveld wing that was never realised.

client City of Utrecht
location Utrecht, The Netherlands
period 1994-1999
procedure assignment
surface 8500 m²
budget € 15 000 000
team Lieven Achtergael, Stéphane Beel, Pieter Jacobs, Douglas Allard, Hilde Huyghe, Hans Lust, Trice Hofkens, Isabelle Dierickx, Marie-Anne Morel, Olivier Claeys, Nikolaas Vande Keere, Marleen Dilissen, Regis Verplaetse
i.c.w. Stéphane Beel (architectural design), Atelier van Lieshout (art), Marieke van Diemen (art), Richard Hutten (interior), Michel Desvigne Paysagistes (landscape design), D3BN (structural engineering), Ketel (MEP engineering), Toornend & Partners (project support)