A Dutch royal palace is set to be given a new purpose in one of three unique ways. Soestdijk Palace was built in the 17th century and was most recently home to Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard until their deaths. It will now become an experimental garden, an innovation lab or a public park.
The first of the three shortlisted proposals, called Eden Soestdijk, was developed by Mecanoo architects. Inspired by the UK's Eden Project, it is to be a "paradise of sustainability," aimed at showing people the fragility of the Earth and encouraging them to change their behavior in a positive way.
A biodome greenhouse would be constructed in the grounds, in which visitors would be routed through a variety of artificial landscapes. A tropical rainforest section would show the importance of biodiversity, a high-tech agricultural area how food can be sustainably produced and a subterranean world how fungi and bacteria work.
Elsewhere, the palace garden would be restored to a "fairytale-like" state to provide exciting and educational experiences of nature. The palace itself would be used as an innovation lab, showcasing the work of entrepreneurs, experts and students and a 100-125 room five-star, sustainable, boutique hotel would also be built.
A second concept, Made by Holland, would see the palace grounds themselves turned into a laboratory of innovation, with the wings of the palace able to be rented by companies and organizations for exhibiting their work. Historical landmarks around the grounds would be restored. An events space would also be added and 65 detached houses built on the site of the palace's old barracks.
The third and final shortlisted proposal is called Nationaal Ensemble. It would see the palace renovated to once again become a working country house. Visitors would be able to walk and play sports in the grounds and a new pavilion, connected to the Grand Canal, will feature projections, special effects and music. The concept would also see around 40 houses and 70 apartments and townhouses built.
A total of 120 submissions were made to the design competition. Among the themes said to have been explored are agriculture, horticulture and food technology, water and trade, health, innovation, sustainability and international knowledge sharing and collaboration.
All three of the final shortlisted plans have met the qualitative criteria required and so any can go ahead. Each team has until April 28 next year to submit a viable bid for Soestdijk.
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