Arnhem, Netherlands is in the midst of commissioning designs for ArtA, a new cultural center planned for the city. Proposals from an impressive list of four international firms are being considered for the space, which is to house the Museum Arnhem and the Focus Film Theater. Beyond accommodating both exhibition and theater programming, the structure is also meant to act as a link between the city and the waterfront of the adjacent Rhine River.
SO-IL presented a modular design composed of five units of varying size. A central staircase leads visitors deep into the interior of the structure, while each unit is strategically pierced by large openings that provide views of the river and the surrounding city.
In keeping with the two pronged program of the center, BIG elected to place a black box and a white box at either pole of their proposal. These archetypes of museum and theater architecture are fused by a twisted volume and diagonal arts plaza. The torqued form creates new types of semi-protected public spaces in the plaza designated to host the center.
Both NL Architects and Kengo Kuma arrive to the competition armed with stepped structures. Kengo Kuma offer a series of offset stacked glass rectangles partially clad in red clay tile, an arrangement that also generates a number of rooftop terraces. The Rhine is metaphorically invited into the site in the form of cascading reflecting pools.
NL Architects envisions a more uniformly staggered facade in the form of a large staircase-shaped structure growing in size and stature as it approaches the waterfront. These, too, are coupled with rooftop green space and a sculpture garden, while the steps rest upon an expansive and largely open multifunctional art square.