The Dutch city of Leeuwarden, capital of the region of Frisia, and La Valetta, Malta, are the European Cultural Capitals of 2018. The official inauguration took place on the weekend of January 26 – 28, 2018, beginning a year of programming including more than 60 main events and hundreds of "Mienskip” projects.
"The iepen mienskip - open community" is a series of projects linked to the central theme, which, as described in official announcements, “means being open to the people around you". The organisers are asking people to rediscover themselves as an open, determined, committed community of people aware of each other’s ideas and opportunities. The aim is not to be limited to the Dutch community, but to be connected with all communities in Europe – both on-line and real-life - and cooperate with them on a number of levels.
This is the context of the Obe pavilion designed by Powerhouse Company to host Lân fan taal (Land of Languages), a series of events celebrating linguistic diversity and multilinguism.
The Obe pavilion, inaugurated on February 2, is a wood and glass volume with a curved, sculptural shape which was created employing skilled craftsmanship to become one of the most attractive sites in the programme for Leeuwarden European Cultural Capital of 2018. Its position in the city’s historic centre helps. This location provided some important input for architects: the new building must be accessible and attractive on all sides. The architects of Powerhouse Company managed to reconcile the client’s requests, the limitations on the site and the inspiration it provided with the need to contain everything in a small lot. The pavilion is a transparent rectangular volume with a curved timber roof that serves a dual function, covering the pavilion while at the same time providing permanent seating for spectators at public events and shows in Oldehoofsterkerkhof, a historic square in Leeuwarden. The building becomes a new urban landmark and reinforces the public space’s previous function.
The pavilion about Frisian poet Obe Postma will host events at Lân fan taal (Land of Languages) dedicated to multilinguism, for learning about and experiencing the diversity of language, including braille, body language, dance, music and slang. Architect Stefan Prins of Powerhouse Company emphasises the important role of verbal and body language for connecting people, while at the same time using the pavilion as a physical and social element connecting the city’s historic centre with the adjacent park.
Wybren Jorritsma, project manager at Lân fan taal, also underlines the pavilion’s social role. In line with Lân fan taal’s mission, the spaces designed by the architects of Powerhouse Company allow people to meet, interact, talk and be inspired.
The low, compact building was designed with great attention to the criteria of sustainability and innovation, with a flexible layout that can easily be adapted to the events held there.
The design and 3D model of the roof / seating allowed the building to be constructed rapidly and with great precision. The OBE pavilion was therefore ready for the inauguration of the events scheduled for Leeuwarden European Cultural Capital of 2018. Powerhouse Company’s building was unveiled to the public with a site-specific installation by British artist Tim Etchells, whose neon writing and audio messages took over all the pavilion’s space and potential.
Design: Powerhouse Company, (Partner in Charge: Stefan Prins - Team: Nanne de Ru, Stefan Prins, Max Tala Nossin, Peter Lee, Melanie Lo, Helena Tse, Joppe Kusters, Michael Schuurman, Erwin van Strien, Gert Ververs).
Location: Leeuwarden - Ljouwert, the Netherlands
Photos: Ossip van Duivenbode