Nature Activity Center
20 juli 2002
Visitor centre, Oostvaardersplassen, 1999-2001 (building commences in 2003) The Oostvaardersplassen is a protected ecological area that lies between Almere and Lelystad on the Markermeer. Thousands of birds migrate to the area each year. Bird watchers and visitors to the area have limited access, an understandable attempt to conserve and protect the nature. The forestry department of the Netherlands is faced with a paradox; how to make a visitor centre that makes the inaccessible accessible?
By lifting the program above the level of the forest, like an observation hut adapted to the scale of the Oostvaardersplassen, the visitor to is offered a panorama over the protected ecological area. At the same time the building functions as a landmark, visible from afar. On arrival, the NAC disappears behind a mass of green. Wandering between the trees on a boardwalk, the visitor 'discovers' the centre. Three fragile supports form the access to the building. The observation tower is directly accessed by a glass lift. Visitors are offered a fantastic view on the way up, as they pass through the trees. On exiting the lift, one enters a 4 meter high outer passage with a 100% glass panorama window. The visitor is invited by the widening passage to the north side of the building, and a view over the trees to the Markermeer. On a clear day one will be able to see Amsterdam from here. The restaurant is situated at this point, with tables that flow out into the walkway, a street cafe at 40 meters above the trees. Apart from the fantastic view, this outer passage connects the nature shop, restaurant, exposition and auditorium. The centre will become a venue for not only nature lovers, but for businesses that rent it for day conferences. In so doing, a mix of people are attracted to the centre, and it’s message of ecological responsibility is transferred.
MVRDV Winy maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Duzan Doepel, Bart Spee, Anet Schurink