In the heart of Apeldoorn, Netherlands, the Museum Paleis Het Loo stands as a testament to architectural brilliance, seamlessly blending tradition with innovation. This masterpiece, orchestrated by the renowned KAAN Architecten, transcends the boundaries of conventional museum design. The planning, design solutions, and overarching philosophy behind the creation of Museum Paleis Het Loo offer a captivating journey into the realm of architectural ingenuity.

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Museum Paleis Het Loo_©Simon Menges

Design

The planning phase of the Museum Paleis Het Loo was a delicate dance between preserving the historical essence of the original palace and incorporating modern functionalities to meet the needs of a contemporary museum.

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Interior modern museum_©www.designboom.com

On the suburbs of Apeldoorn, Paleis Het Loo was first built in 1686 as a royal hunting castle for King William III and Queen Mary.  The palace was meticulously converted into a museum, which required a careful balancing act between adaptation and preservation. Under a public plaza and fountain, more over 5,000 square meters of new spaces and utilities were added as part of the makeover.

In order to maintain a delicate balance, KAAN Architecten took a comprehensive approach that took into account the modern museum’s spatial and functional requirements while also recognizing the historical significance of the site. The design team meticulously studied the current structures, ensuring that new design elements were smoothly integrated with the palace’s original architecture. This process required a thorough understanding of the historical context, which informed decisions regarding spatial organization, circulation, and the positioning of exhibition spaces.

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Plan of underground museum_©www.archdaily.com

A baroque arrangement of lush gardens interspersed with multiple water features and a massive palace at its base was made possible by the property’s large wooded grounds and the required subsurface water pressure. This intrinsic relationship between architecture and landscape serves as the inspiration for KAAN Architecten’s intervention. The new water feature is incorporated into the design and the entire extension is subterranean, maintaining the overall composition’s tradition without detracting from the historically significant image.

While constructing a modern and useful environment, KAAN Architecten’s design solutions demonstrate a dedication to preserving the historical integrity of Museum Paleis Het Loo. The juxtaposition of the old and the new—the preservation of historic chambers alongside the inclusion of contemporary display spaces—is one noteworthy feature. By celebrating the palace’s historical elements, the architects allowed visitors to witness the site’s centuries-long transformation.

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Inner courtyard_©Simon Menges

Another amazing area that was created with a central fountain, glass surfaces with natural stone, and flowing water reminiscent of the old gardens is the Bassecour, an interior courtyard situated between the royal wings. The new extension’s roof is made of shallow ponds that reflect the palace and let light in, producing a stunning sight.

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Entrance to palace_©www.english.elpais.com

Kaan Architecten placed two entrances at the ends of the palace’s wings, where two entrance pavilions lead down into the underground addition, rather than creating a new entrance that would take away from the current plan.

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Foyer_©Simon Menges

This opens the Grand Foyer, the extension’s main focal point, and takes guests onto the balcony flooded with natural light. A giant compass rose on the floor marks the center of the extension and gives guests multiple routes to explore, while the Grand Foyer preserves the symmetry of the Baroque composition and visually connects to the ancient structure through a glass canopy.

Museum Paleis Het Loo’s design philosophy aims to establish a seamless connection between the past and present. The selection of materials, colors, and forms are carefully chosen to complement the existing architecture and introduce contemporary elements in a subtle manner. The outcome is a unified design that pays homage to the site’s history and caters to the needs of a contemporary museum audience.

Materials/Construction

The construction of Museum Paleis Het Loo represents a convergence of traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technologies. KAAN Architecten, cognizant of the historical significance of the site, employed special construction techniques and materials to breathe new life into the aging palace while preserving its essence.

The palace’s facade has been restored with great attention to detail, which is a standout feature. Expert craftsmen worked together with the architects to meticulously restore the intricate stonework and decorative elements, ensuring that the facade remained true to its 17th-century magnificence. To replicate the original craftsmanship, traditional construction techniques were utilized, and artisans had to carve and shape stones by hand to match the historic elements.

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Ballrooom restaurant_©Sebastian van damme

The restoration was done in a meticulous manner, while new exhibition spaces were created using innovative construction techniques. KAAN Architecten used modern construction methods to build contemporary structures that were seamlessly integrated with the existing ones, using advanced materials such as glass, steel, and concrete.

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Harmony among finishes_©Simon Menges

The new building features tasteful and understated finishes that seamlessly combine different textures and materials. Walnut wood, sandblasted, honed, and polished marble, and luxurious fabrics with metallic accents are widely used, drawing inspiration from the gardens and grand halls of the original palace.

Sustainability

Sustainability takes center stage in the Museum Paleis Het Loo project, as KAAN Architecten embraces a holistic approach to environmental responsibility. The architects recognize the importance of preserving cultural heritage while minimizing the ecological footprint of the new interventions.

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Optimizing natural light_©Simon Menges

Energy efficiency is a key focus in the sustainable design of Museum Paleis Het Loo. The integration of state-of-the-art HVAC systems, energy-efficient lighting, and climate control technologies ensures that the museum operates with minimal energy consumption. KAAN Architecten prioritized passive design strategies, optimizing natural light and ventilation to reduce reliance on artificial lighting and air conditioning.

The roof of the museum showcases an innovative approach to sustainability. Green roofing, featuring a selection of native plant species, not only provides insulation but also contributes to biodiversity and stormwater management. This eco-friendly choice aligns with the surrounding landscape and demonstrates the architects’ commitment to creating a sustainable cultural institution.

Furthermore, Museum Paleis Het Loo incorporates rainwater harvesting systems to meet non-potable water needs. This sustainable water management strategy reduces the demand for local water supplies and exemplifies the integration of modern technologies to enhance the overall environmental performance of the museum.

The architects made deliberate choices to reduce the environmental impact of the building materials used. They prioritized the use of recycled and locally sourced materials, which decreased carbon emissions related to transportation and supported nearby economies. Furthermore, the implementation of materials with low emissions contributed to a healthier atmosphere inside the museum for both visitors and staff.

Garden surrounding palace_©www.designboom.com

In addition to the building and operational aspects, KAAN Architecten also incorporated eco-friendly practices in the landscape design surrounding Museum Paleis Het Loo. The use of native plantings, permeable pavements, and green areas helped to enhance the ecological balance of the location, creating a harmonious relationship between the museum and its natural environment.

Conclusion 

The Museum Paleis Het Loo by KAAN Architecten stands as a beacon of architectural excellence, seamlessly blending historical preservation with contemporary innovation. The meticulous planning, thoughtful design solutions, and commitment to sustainability make this cultural institution a shining example of how architecture can pay homage to the past while embracing the future. The harmonious coexistence of traditional craftsmanship and modern technologies in both design and construction ensures that Museum Paleis Het Loo not only preserves the rich history of the site but also paves the way for a sustainable and culturally vibrant future.

References:

  1. designboom, myrto katsikopoulou I. (2023, April 27). step inside KAAN’s marble-clad extension for historic het loo palace in the netherlands. Designboom | Architecture & Design Magazine. https://www.designboom.com/architecture/kaan-architecten-paleis-het-loo-extension-netherlands-04-27-2023/
  2. Gallery of Museum Paleis Het Loo / KAAN Architecten – 24. (n.d.). ArchDaily. Retrieved November 18, 2023, from https://www.archdaily.com/999537/museum-paleis-het-loo-kaan-architecten/6439a7f44d5c4615e3acccb6-museum-paleis-het-loo-kaan-architecten-photo
  3. Kaan Architecten’s underground extension to Dutch museum is designed to “radiate grandeur.” (2023, April 27). Dezeen. https://www.dezeen.com/2023/04/27/kaan-architectens-underground-extension-museum-paleis-het-looo/
  4. Jenkins, K. (2023, June 8). A visit to Het Loo Palace. Velvet Escape. https://velvetescape.com/paleis-het-loo/
  5. Paleis Het Loo – underground extension by KAAN Architects fitted into baroque landscape. (n.d.). Archello. Retrieved November 18, 2023, from https://archello.com/news/paleis-het-loo-underground-extension-by-kaan-architects-fitted-into-baroque-landscape
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