Schoenkwartier Shoe Museum, Waalwijk, NL, North Brabant Property, Building, Dutch Architecture Images
Schoenkwartier Shoe Museum in Waalwijk
7 Dec 2022
Design: CIVIC Architects
Location: Waalwijk, North Brabant, Holland, The Netherlands
Photos: Stijn Bollaert
Schoenkwartier Shoe Museum, Holland
The Schoenenkwartier Museum is a new and innovative knowledge centre for shoe design, shoe production and shoe fashion in the centre of Waalwijk, the Dutch leather and shoe city. It is housed in a listed building complex from the 1930s, by architect Alexander Kropholler, which has been partly renovated, transformed and expanded. The buildings now house a collection of 12,000 objects, several permanent exhibitions, a knowledge centre with research library, workshop space and auditorium, museum café and laboratories for design and prototyping. Both the planning and design of the building and its interior map out a new inspiring future for the industry, the city and the community, built on the values of the past.
Historic craftsmanship as a new connector
Waalwijk is a typical small European city that became big through the industrial development of a local craft, but at the same timeis struggling with its future. Leather processing and shoe manufacture formed the culture, economy and pride of the region “de Langstraat” as an international player, but leather and shoe production have now disappeared. However, there are still areas of large and small shoe brands and the Shoe and Leather Museum, founded in 1954. The building is a combination of a museum and an innovation centre, interwoven into one living entity. A research library is located between the exhibition rooms, there are several innovation
and design labs for education and artists in residence, and various possibilities for conferences and company presentations. The ShoeMuseum has brought regional shoe craftsmanship back to where it started, the city is once again becoming an (inter)national destination for experts and innovators, and the cultural history of the local community is shown and enhanced. The collection is the endless source of inspiration in all this.
Public revitalisation of the city centre
The Shoe Museum is located in the heart of the historic city centre, on the Raadhuisplein, where the town hall and city hall were housed in the last century. The general functions of the museum, such as the work café with the open work labs, are directly visible from the square and are also open to the public, even for people not visiting the exhibitions.
In addition to being a museum and innovation centre, the Shoe Museum is a welcoming place for the community. The hospitable public aatmosphere is also noticeable when you enter the building through the historic arcades with generous pivoting and sliding doors: The entrance area is completely open and in the centre of the building runs an inner pavement with a cobble pattern, reminiscent of a covered city square.
A real museum building that is in keeping with the times
The building has a different layout and atmosphere compared to traditional museums. The shoe collection is large, extensive and special, but the intended target groups (from international fashion experts to families from the neighbourhood) all have different expectations, needs and attention spans. That’s why the building has been designed in such a way that everyone can determine their own way and pace. The completely open ground floor brings together all the functions, from café to exhibitions, and the centrally added garden gives flexibility and choice for the public routing. The spectacular new large round openings, cut out of the strippedown old façade of the 80s office wing, allow you to catch a glimpse of the exhibitions from here.
Cleverly placed staircases and routes make it possible to take shortcuts and only visit the highlights and study one exhibition in detail if you wish, but you can also visit the museum in the classical way and follow the entire beautifully thought-out route. The open layout of the museum means that there are many views right across the museum. You can look forward, back and inside the exhibition rooms, as well as in the knowledge centre and the “make-labs” which have been placed logically along these routes. This connects the collections and the people in a relaxed way. It makes the Shoe Museum a lively place for cross-pollination and inspiration.Sometimes, you can also look outside at one of the gardens or the historic buildings, to process your impressions or simply enjoy the beautiful place.
Architecture for everyone
The tone in the complex is set by familiar materials such as brick, steel, concrete and wood. This is a deliberate choice: the materials reinforce the atmosphere of the collection and of the historical building and form one collective artwork. At the same time, it appears that some visitors may feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in abstract museum spaces because they don’t visit them that often, while the museum wants to be open to the widest possible audience. The choice of real materials and the geometric shapes used transcend the target group in the sense that they appeal to universal experiences of the human senses; from sight to hearing, from touch to smell. The materials are also chosen with sustainability in mind. On the one hand, this means that they must be able to withstand rough handling and age well, and on the other hand, that they must be sustainably sourced and reused wherever possible.
Adding to the life story of the building.
The ”Raadhuis ensemble” is one of the most important building complexes by architect Alexander Kropholler from the 1930s, which was realised in phases and extended once in the 1980s. The buildings have been partly modified, partly renovated and expanded with a new building section. The recognisable Kropholler principles and details were restored during the renovation, and they also inspired the new design. In this way, we apply the principle of individuality and solidity, just as the original architect did: wood is wood; stone is stone. The original layout of the open arcades and the kiosk on the square has been reinforced with new arched window
frames, made from thick oak, in the “Kropholler” tradition. The new garden has a brick façade, just high enough to make the newmuseum visible from the town hall square, but low enough not to draw all the attention to itself. As with the historic buildings, large-format bricks with wide joints have been used here, whose diagonal, staggered masonry subtly refers to the roof shapes of the other building sections. This means that the addition is not an idiosyncratic fashion icon, but a logical new chapter in the overall story of the historically layered building ensemble, which with this approach still has a long future ahead of it.
Free handling of a compelling legacy
Kropholler’s architectural ideas were also somewhat rigid and constraining, which is not in keeping with the role that the museum wishes to fulfil in society today. That’s why a conscious decision was made to continue working with the original materials and techniques, but to design in a more liberal way. The new sawn openings in the garden fit well with the arched arcades of the old town hall, but are actually bricked in a complete circle, which would be a “sin” according to Kropholler’s theory. The vaulted ceiling doesn’t have one continuously repeating size but is staggered several times. These and other subtly subversive design details bring Kropholler’s rigid architectural ideas to the present day, but ultimately the old and new beliefs form one unit.
Testing ground for circular techniques and methods
With its various design and manufacturing labs, the Shoe Museum offers space for designers, educational institutions and the business community to experiment with new circular techniques. Experiments have also been carried out with different techniques and materials in architecture and interior design. By turning an oppressive 80s office building with low ceilings into museum spaces, and by sawing out parts of it in a special way and preserving as much as possible. The central multifunctional desk in the entrance area is made of “lime hemp” with ceilings made of synthetic felt from recycled PET bottles. The undisputed eye-catcher in the entrance area is the experimental ceramic tile wall, developed in cooperation with the agency La-Di-Da. The wall combines ceramic craftsmanship with innovation and sustainability through the unusual shape of the 3D printed moulds and the use of waste from other glazing processes.
To develop the interior design, collaborations have been set up with education, the business community and creative regional crafts. In cooperation with ceramics studio Cor Unum, the prototype for the tile wall was developed and implemented as a small-scale traditional production, partly realised by people with a distance to the labour market. Students from the SintLucas vocational school designed the leather cushions for the auditorium, and local businesses provided the furnishings for the office environment. It shows that the link between social cohesion and architectural products can be realised in public buildings. It is therefore as one in cultural cohesion, social cohesion and regional identity.
Schoenkwartier Shoe Museum in Waalwijk, the Netherlands – Building Information
Design: CIVIC Architects – hhttps://www.civicarchitects.eu/
Client: Municipality of Waalwijk
User: Shoe Museum
Architect: Civic Architects
Interior design: Civic Architects
Design tile wall: La-Di-Da
Exhibition design: Tinker Imagineers
Identity and wayfinding: The Invisible Party
Cultural heritage research: Lotte Zaaijer
Constructor: Archimedes Bouwadvies
Project management: BBN
Installation advice and building physics: Nelissen Ingenieursbureau
Architectural execution: Wam and van Duren
Interior design: Planemos, Cor Unum Ceramics, Lensvelt,
Execution of installations: Van Dijnsen installatietechniek
Exhibition implementation: Kloosterboer
Photography: Stijn Bollaert
Schoenkwartier Shoe Museum, Waalwijk NL images / information received 071222
Location: Waalwijk, The Netherlands
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