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Heatherwick Studio architect wins Belgian refugee monument contest

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London-based architect Matthijs la Roi has won a competition for a new monument to Belgian refugees in Amersfoort, The Netherlands

The architect – who works at Heatherwick Studio – was chosen from a seven-strong shortlist which included West 8 to win the prestigious commission.

Planned to complete in 2019, the winning 150m² Museum of Hospitality concept will be constructed next to an existing First World War monument to Belgian soldiers in the Dutch town.

According to a statement by the architect: ‘At the end of World War I, Belgium gifted a monument to The Netherlands in remembrance of the benevolent internment of Belgian soldiers during the war.

‘Despite the fact that the monument is the largest of its kind in The Netherlands, its existence is relatively unknown by Dutch citizens. The main reason is that the First World War barely lives in The Netherlands and is thus hardly remembered. It is practically forgotten that one million Belgians fled to neutral Netherlands at the beginning of the war in 1914.

‘The Museum of Hospitality acts as an exhibition pavilion next to the current monument. It tells the story of the Belgian refugees with the intention of drawing parallels to today’s refugee crisis as well. It will stand as a reminder to future generations of the importance of providing hospitality to those in need.’

La Roi’s winning scheme comprises a single pavilion divided into two masses, each featuring a small exhibition space.

La Roi said: ‘The first exhibition will tell the story of the Belgian refugee crisis in The Netherlands during World War I. The second space will exhibit the 100 years of refugee hospitality in The Netherlands from World War I and onwards.

‘The building’s form is based on a contemporary interpretation of the “Amsterdam style” of the existing monument. Plasticity of masses was an essential attribute of this style.

‘The new pavilion is composed out of dynamic masses evoking movement and pliancy, whereas the existing monument is a vertical composition. The two, existing and new, will be tied together through materiality as they both use the same brick and limestone.’

The shortlist

West 8
Gosia Olchowska
in collaboration with York Bing Oh
Marie Prunault
Maarten Overdijk
in collaboration with Steven van der Goes architecten
Roef Architect
in collaboration with Landschapsarchitect Oosterbeek


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