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Mecanoo’s Vision for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

On Thursday 4 June, Francine Houben of the architecture firm Mecanoo presented her vision for the renovation of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen to the members of the Rotterdam’s city council. Earlier this year, Mecanoo was chosen to oversee the renovation and modernisation of the museum.

We are proud to present Mecanoo’s vision here. It is a vision that takes the museum’s collection as its starting point, optimises the visitor’s experience and improves the connection with the Museumpark and the city. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has a unique world-class collection and considers the parts of its building complex designed by Ad van der Steur (1935, national monument) and Alexander Bodon (1972, pending national monument status) as essential parts of that collection. Both wings are to be restored to their original splendour. With the addition of the new Mecanoo wing, which will act as a connecting element and a catalyst, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s ensemble of buildings will be transformed into a marvellously clear complex with excellent logistics for both visitors and back-of-house staff. You can see Francine Houben’s presentation to Rotterdam’s city council here.

We look forward with great interest to Mecanoo’s detailed development of this vision and in the meantime continue to work on the programme for the museum and Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, which will open in the autumn of 2021 and which, together with the museum buildings, will form the new Boijmans Van Beuningen ensemble.

Public passageway

Mecanoo introduces a transparent passageway that meanders  organically between the Van der Steur and Bodon buildings, creating a public connection between the city and the park and vice versa. It will transform Boijmans from introvert to extrovert, from closed to open, from a fortress into a museum where inside and outside intertwine, resulting in a natural and organic feel. It is precisely this contrasting quality that will create a harmonious composition with the Van der Steur and Bodon wings.

Mecanoo’s restoration vision is sensitive to the logic of the existing buildings and is fully anchored in its context. Van der Steur’s and Bodon’s ideas are respected, restored and, where possible, even strengthened. A number of ‘surgical’ interventions are required to make the museum accessible to all target groups and to improve the logistics of the back-of-house functions, while reviving the daylit museum envisaged by Van der Steur and Bodon. For the restoration, Mecanoo is collaborating with BBM.
The foundations and basements of the 2003 extension by architects Robbrecht & Daem will be retained in the new design. However, because Robbrecht & Daem’s building has proven highly problematic, both spatially and technically, it has been decided to demolish this part of the complex. This will make the Van der Steur and Bodon wings visible again and enable the creation of clear and logical circulation routes and an inviting entrance oriented towards the city. Research has shown that the garden-facing pavilion built by Hubert Jan Henket in 1991 can be easily disassembled. The relocation of the Henket pavilion will restore the beautiful sightlines across the museum’s garden to the restored Gerrit de Jongh monument and will restore the view of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen from the Museumpark. There are several beautiful potential locations for the re-siting of the Henket pavilion.

Museum of the future

For Rotterdammers and visitors to the city, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Museumpark will become a place where people of all generations and cultural backgrounds will want to spend time, with so many activities on offer that there will always be a reason to visit. Rotterdam’s world-class cultural park will feature monumental sculpture, informal street art, pop-ups and an exciting programme of events with the renewed Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen as a central player and connecting element.