To commemorate the Dutch Victims of the second world war and recent events, KAAN Architecten has created a multi-functional pavilion at the National Field of Honour in Loenen.
Led by Kees Kaan, Vincent Panhuysen and Dikkie Scipio, KAAN Architecten’s projects are said to transcend the apparent notion of scale and typology, lending each project an identity of its own.
Engulfed in a captivating environment and flanked by trees, the scene in which the Loenen Pavilion is set in- is beautifully calm and serene. The pavilion seems to be located between two expanses of woods and enveloped by two forest rooms when seen from the top. The major themes being explored in the pavilion design are that of open, close and the space between the two. The values and emotions upholding ‘Remembrance’ and ‘commemoration’ was the profundity of the project.
This is eminent in the form of roof perforations that expose the vertical scenery consisting of the sky and high-reaching trunks of pine trees. The presence of high ceilings and large roofs further adds to the openness of the structure. Comprising an auditorium, a multi-purpose room, and a condolence area, the pavilion harmoniously blends with it’s exterior. It acts as a concept connecting the Loenen National War cemetery and the New Veterans Cemetery.
The main space is an auditorium. It is dedicated to assemblies and funeral services for the nearby National Veterans Cemetery. The auditorium opens up to a multi-purpose room which serves as both the exhibition and information space.
Each space inside the pavilion has its distinguishing feature and lookouts. The condolences area offers two opposite sides, each oriented towards a forest room: one for veteran burials and one for the War Cemetery.
On the contrary, the auditorium overlooks the sightline ending at the cross in the middle of the War Cemetery. The viewer’s eye is guided through a large window in the pavilion that creates vistas and views complimenting the exteriors.
The designers at Kaan Architecten allowed the surrounding trees to shape the structure’s form to provide accommodation to nature’s will and juxtaposed architecture with landscape. The Loenen War Cemetery built on the Dutch Territory also respected its peaceful context, allowing the users to express their grief through occupancy of the structure.
Having a footprint of 52m x 19m and stretching along the east-west axis, the pavilion is heavily guarded by slender pine and birch trees. The lack of unnecessary intrusiveness has been achieved through sensitisation of architectural forms and design gestures. A compact structure had been proposed to express the required intimacy to be manifested architecturally. It was also done to accommodate a maximum number of trees between the two open spaces.
However, it was equally crucial for the structure to be honest and inviting. Hence the absence of any doors provides an unobstructed clear view of the outside, gently disrupted by the trunks of the pine trees. A flow of functions was looked out for- just like the quest for light and tranquillity through the conception of the building.
To explain why the cemetery’s gravestones were lying flat on the ground, the architects mentioned the use of horizontality against verticality to preserve the continuity of the calming natural pretext. Natural-coloured interiors with thick stone-clad walls strip the structure of any religious connotations, aiming to unite its users through the conveyance of sole emotions that make them human.
The elegant choice of materials refines and defines the character of the building and the purpose it commemorates. The open spatial configuration draws ample natural light into the pavilion. The architects’ decision to refrain from the design of corridors facilitates the flow of functions and transparency in circulation- both from and to interiors and exteriors.
Promising to accommodate nearly 200 people, the Pavilion has been optimally designed to account for the indoor climate and be sustainable. The architects have used ventilation and floor heating systems to achieve internal thermal comfort. The presence of visible installations and services have been avoided.
The overall design is simple, contemporary, and complete. It fulfills its designated purpose and sits quietly in a forest as architectural beauty. The architects have skillfully managed to encompass the crux of the functions to be provided and serviced the woods with a structure to the best of their artistic abilities.
What sits still and expresses its gloom is time itself. It stands as proof of humans’ solidarity and grief in their lifetime and provided incredible solace. The Pavilion and its context attempt to the best of their efforts to rid bereaved visitors of their melancholy and do so with extreme gentleness. A place where the cadence of worldly occurrence draws to an imposing halt allows its visitors to reflect upon events’ conditioning and subsequent trances calmly.