Groninger Forum
Groningen, Netherlands

The Groninger Forum continues the tradition of historic public icons with strong architectural characteristics in the city of Groningen, such as its city hall, and the Martini Tower. Simultaneously, the design features a contemporary dialectic play between solid and transparent, weight and weightlessness. Its shape makes it a composed and self-confident icon, which both embraces and exceeds the surrounding city structure: From a distance the building seems impenetrable, whereas from nearby it is open, accessible. The translucent alabaster facade contributes to this inherent play; at night, the building stands out as an illuminated beacon in the centre of the city. The 11 stories building houses a cinema, auditorium, library and information domains to exhibition space, panoramic lounge, roof terrace café and a children’s play area. The Forum resembles a soft sculpted rock that narrows towards the top and peaks with the transparent roof of the central void. Like a canyon, the central void cuts through all levels of the building allowing shimmering natural light to penetrate deep into the core of the building.

Groninger Forum hovers one level above the ground, its entrance facing the big market square. The ground level almost seamlessly unites with the surrounding public square. The ground floor ceiling and void are fully clad in the same red brick of the pavement of the market square. Glass walls at the ground level can be opened to create a continuous space in and outside the building allowing visitors to wander in freely. The main body of the building is accessed via an escalator through the void. On the first floor, an efficient routing system of escalators allows visitors to shortcut through the building and reach all areas directly. In this design proposal, the transition between all areas is fluent. All facilities can seamlessly be accessed throughout the building. Various parts can be opened and closed without affecting the use of other zones. Especially the cinema, the exhibition area and the roof-top café can remain open late at night or on Sundays.

21,000 m2
Assigned by
Municipality of Groningen
Competition in 2006