A visitor center shaped as a country house, clad in metallic champagne

Located in the Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands, close to the Kröller-Müller Museum, the building by Monadnock and De Zwarte Hond was inspired by the image of a country house.

This article was originally published on Domus 1042, January 2020

Created in the early decades of the 20th century by the Dutch industrialist Anton Kröller, the Hoge Veluwe National Park comprises 55 square kilometres of woodland and sand dunes outside Otterlo in the east of the Netherlands. Among the few buildings here are the St. Hubertus Hunting Lodge which H.P. Berlage designed in 1914 and also Henry van de Velde’s museum of 1938 which houses the remarkable art collection assembled by Kröller and his wife, Helene Kröller-Müller. 

Park Pavilion, Otterlo
The pavilion’s main facade is slightly curved and fully glazed to create a close relationship with the surrounding natural landscape. The single floor and the strong presence of the roof – a clear reference to Eric Gunnar Asplund's Nordic architecture – endows the building with more intimate spatial dimensions. Photo Stijn Bollaert

One further addition has now been made to this select grouping in the form of a new visitor centre designed by the Dutch practices Monadnock and De Zwarte Hond. Serving the more than half a million tourists that visit Hoge Veluwe each year, it is located at the heart of the park, establishing a destination to which hikers and cyclists travel by car or bus before making their way into the surrounding landscape.

Initially glimpsed across an elegantly landscaped expanse of car parking, the pavilion presents an immediately legible silhouette comprising a conjoined pair of monumental gables. This north-facing elevation is the building’s most formally emphatic but the composition nonetheless remains subtly unsettled.

The roofline is asymmetrical while each gable is slightly buckled midway along its length. The predominant material is aluminium – anodised to a champagne colour that complements the sandy ground – but the gable to the right also incorporates a plinth of buff brick. Both materials are employed to form a series of close-packed vertical fins that overlay a free composition  of windows. In a gesture both graphic and enigmatic, the left-hand gable is dominated by a large semicircular expanse of glass. While the building’s considerable bulk is hidden from this initial view, it begins to reveal itself as we approach the entrance which lies midway down the curving and very much longer east elevation. 

Park Pavilion, Otterlo
Interior view of Park Pavilion, De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Otterlo, Netherlands. Photo Stijn Bollaert

At low level this facade is fully glazed and negotiates the curve through the adoption of a zigzag plan, forming multiple bays which accommodate seating. On entering, we discover that the pronounced roofline that the building presents externally is concealed by a suspended barrel vault – the source of the semicircular window on the north facade – which follows a tightly curving course from one end of the building to the other.

It extends over both the cafe that lies to our left and the shop on our right – the curvature of the plan ensuring that, while there is no barrier between these spaces, each is largely hidden from the other. Ahead, a curvaceous top-lit stair in oak provides access to a suite of meeting rooms available for private hire. 

Park Pavilion, Otterlo
View inside the public area of the visitor centre, with wainscoting lining the whole interior and rising to the barrel-vaulted ceiling. This continuous space mainly includes the lobby, catering area and the park shop. Photo Stijn Bollaert

The image of a country house provided a guiding reference for the atmosphere that the architects have cultivated most explicitly through the location of a large tiled fireplace at one end of the curve framed to either side by mounted deer heads. Oak wainscoting effectively moderates the acoustic qualities of what would otherwise be a noisy environment while a series of bespoke chandeliers, incorporating LED lights, animate the surface of the barrel vault with an evocation of sunlight permeating through the branches of trees.

Park Pavilion The Hoge Veluwe National Park
Otterlo, The Netherlands
Restaurant, shop, education and reception areas
De Zwarte Hond & Monadnock
Project architects:
Job Floris, Willem Hein Schenk
Project team:
Sandor Naus, Michael Maminski, Andre van der Slik
Project management, construction, acoustics and installations :
Antea Group
Landscape design:
Monadnock, De Zwarte Hond, in collaboration with Bart Vos
Bart Vos
Other consultants:
VDNDP Construction Engineers, Vibes Building Engineers
Beersnielsen Lighting Designers
Rots Bouw
Bolidt, Hardeman Carpentry
The National Park De Hoge Veluwe
Built area:
3,300 sqm
Design phase:
Construction phase:

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