Plaswijckpark is the family park that every Rotterdammer knows. Children can climb, scramble, jump, run, roll, and frolic here. With the Plaswijck Pavilion in the new Natuurwijck by the Bergse Achterplas, the park adds an imaginatively stimulating play paradise bordering between the indoors and outdoors. Strategic interventions in the structure and landscape enhance the overall experience of the park.
Challenges: a new pavilion for Plaswijckpark
Plaswijckpark, in the north of Rotterdam, celebrated its hundredth anniversary in 2023. Over the years, it has evolved from a walking garden with a playground for the neighbourhood into a recreation park for the city and region, attracting over 400,000 visitors annually. In 1999, the entrance and routing of the park was flipped, enabling the park to grow but also diminishing its connection to the lake. While the initial focus was on outdoor play, there has been an increasing emphasis on indoor activities in recent years. The introduction of Huis in de Heuvel in 2013 marked the beginning of a comprehensive program for less pleasant days, aiming to achieve a better balance in the number of visitors throughout the year. The burning down of the Theater in 2021 prompted the idea of a new pavilion that strengthens the synergy of indoor and outdoor play in the park.
Approaches: develop the Pavilion as a studio by the lake
The pavilion provides an inspiring environment for play, learning, and experimentation. The concept behind its development is a bustling 'studio' that invites, with spaces and an interior that beckon to be utilized. The focus is on a maximally flexible building, suitable for a variety of activities and uses depending on the season. The pavilion is envisioned as a collection of different spaces and atmospheres: larger open spaces for public and communal use, smaller lockable spaces for groups, workshop and craft spaces, and the outdoor area as an integral part of the design - effectively extending the usage space. During the design process, a space in the park was set up for children to vote on their favourite play equipment. The new pavilion will also house the park’s pancake restaurant and the seasonal ice rink. There's room for everything: frolicking, creating, eating, concentrating, experimenting — whatever you fancy.
With the realisation of the pavilion, Plaswijckpark reconnects with the Bergse Achterplas. Careful integration is essential. The green, tranquil character of the location is enhanced by the addition of new trees and the creation of a natural shore, shaping a fourth zone in the park: Natuurwijck. Breaking up the volume creates a pavilion that aligns in scale and size with the other structures in the park and by the lake. Using understated and timeless materials that blend into the existing green shore, the building nestles into the landscape. Towards the park, there's space for activity, and with the addition of the Pavilion, the park gains a substantial anchor on the lake side. Interventions in the existing path create a logical route from Speelwijck to Dierenwijck. At the pavilion, the path widens into a forecourt with an adjacent terrace.
Solutions: pavilion as machine for usage, embedded in the park
The building is designed as 'usage machine' to facilitate and accelerate the use by children and their families in an optimal way. The structure echoes a tent or pergola, seamlessly merging indoor and outdoor spaces. Light in structure and divided into a collection of smaller spaces, with a roof that 'folds' over in the tradition of the park's previous pavilions.
The various volumes are meticulously materialized, emphasizing timeless, eco-sensitive materials applied with a twist. For example, a wooden facade with open joints that extends from the outside to the inside and a zinc roof with a maroon colour that reminds of an autumnal deck of leaves. The largest volumes, housing the play hall and the pancake restaurant, are as transparent as can be to safeguard an open view towards the lake. The building features generous windows, numerous doors, and overhangs to establish a strong relationship between inside and outside and an all-encompassing orientation. Roof terraces on the first floor connect the studios with the outside, offering views of the park and a hidden play area. Specific elements such as an open studio, XL landing, a tiered seating staircase, strategically placed skylights and windows to frame specific views, a sensory nook, a book wall, a chill net, and ample seating areas are incorporated. This further 'activates' the use, enhances the experience of the weather, and organizes the interior intelligently.
With the realization of the new pavilion, the tent for the temporary ice rink will be removed. However, with the introduction of a new covered playground near the pavilion, the park gains a year-round play destination. A second, completely open, structure, as a 'little brother', alignes perfectly with the pavilion. In winter, it serves as an ice rink, with the pavilion's catering providing snacks and hot drinks. In summer, it becomes a cool place to play, as if standing under a large parasol. And during the showers in the early and late seasons, it is dry and cozy, like being under a large umbrella. With a terrace, lights, and a fireplace at the centre.