MVRDV's Zaanstad Cultural Cluster will house five Dutch institutions in one building

Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has won a competition to design the Cultural Cluster in the heart of the city of Zaanstad, with a proposal to group multiple institutions inside one building – each with their own house-shaped presence on the facade.

MVRDV was selected by the Dutch municipality of Zaanstad, North Holland, for the project, which will occupy a site near to the Inntel Hotel – a building with a facade made of stacked green houses in traditional local styles.

The 7,500-square-metre Cultural Cluster, which also neighbours the train station and city hall, is part of a wider masterplan for the city centre.

Led by architect Sjoerd Soeters, the main objective of the plan is to create a "new Zaan style" with a series of buildings that reference the local vernacular found in the 18th- and 19th-century buildings at the nearby UNESCO heritage site of Zaanse Schans.

MVRDV Zaanstad Cultural Cluster competition

MVRDV's design responds to this overarching objective by including a series of differently sized voids around the facades of the cubic building, each shaped like the outline of a Dutch house. Inside, each space is lined with coloured wood, while the outside of the building is patterned with a motif found in traditional Dutch wallpaper.

"We started with a compact volume and then turned the typical Zaan house inside out, creating an urban living room," said MVRDV co-founder Jacob van Rijs. "On the exterior facade, a wallpaper motif contrasts with interior spaces clad in the green wooden facades so typical of the Zaan region."

The five main occupants will be a film centre, a performing and visual arts centre, a pop music centre, a music school and a centre for design. The building will also house a library and a local radio station.

The biggest of the voids sits in the middle of the building, opening out onto the square in front of the city hall, and is called the Zaan Living Room. It is lined with the bright green-painted wood commonly used for house facades in the area.

MVRDV Zaanstad Cultural Cluster competition

"In this central space, all of the different programmatic elements are connected and come together," said MVRDV.

"An urban-scaled space in which all kinds of visitors will be welcome: the audiences of the various institutions as well as waiting commuters or shoppers that might just want to make use of the restaurants inside the building."

On the ground floor, a live music venue will have space for 500 people and is designed to accommodate different types of events. The building will also have a number of flexible work spaces, cinema rooms, workshops and dance studios as well as a dedicated radio studio.

The whole building will sit in a raised pedestrian square, with bicycle parking and an underground road beneath.

"The entrance to this bicycle parking is, like the building's other voids, designed as a silhouette of a Zaan house," said MVRDV. "From the raised square, a bicycle path leads down to street level."

MVRDV's winning team also included engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV, theatre specialists Bureau Theateradvies and lighting designers Viabizzuno. The municipality and architects will now begin a public consultation process for the design ahead of confirming a construction schedule.

MVRDV Zaanstad Cultural Cluster competition
Diagram – click for larger image
MVRDV Zaanstad Cultural Cluster competition
Challenge concept diagram – click for larger image
MVRDV Zaanstad Cultural Cluster competition
Concept diagram – click for larger image
MVRDV Zaanstad Cultural Cluster competition
Concept diagram – click for larger image
MVRDV Zaanstad Cultural Cluster competition
Concept diagram – click for larger image