Shift Architecture Urbanism
C-City creates a trinity of complimentary public amenities: Continium, Cube and Columbus, combining technology, science, design in one museum district. Continium is a discovery centre for science and technology, whilst Cube will be a design museum consisting of design expos and labs. Columbus will house a unique Earth Theatre in the shape of an inverse planetarium and a 3D cinema in partnership with National Geographic.
Together these elements become a “museum without boundaries”: the museum becomes an interactive workshop in which visitors are regarded as participants rather than spectators, citizens who discover the world and their place in it through interaction, participation and debate. Hence, in addition to museum galleries, C-City also offers shared facilities for conferences, events, workshops and education.
Its top floor offers a multifunctional event space with panoramic view over the landscape of Limburg and Kerkrade.
Columbus is a spherical building, half of which protrudes above ground and half of which is hidden beneath it. The lower half is occupied by the Earth Theatre, where a spectacular, 16-meter wide, hollow projection sphere can be viewed from two rings of glass balconies. This inverted planetarium offers visitors the experience of an astronaut looking back towards planet earth. In the upper half of the Columbus Sphere, underneath the dome, the first National Geographic 3D cinema in Europe will show movies and documentaries.
An important part of the communal functions in C-City are located in the 80 meter long beam volume, hovering above the sunken entrance zone. The beam serves as a giant canopy for the pedestrian route from the train station through the museum district towards the town centre. The beam rests on a minimal amount of columns, emphasizing its floating character whilst keeping the entrance hall underneath as open as possible.
The public walkways crossing through C-City make the museum district part of the public space of Kerkrade. From the walkways, pedestrians can see lively areas of C-City such as the entrance hall, C-Square and the temporary exhibition hall underneath Cube. A north-south axis, which leads right through the entrance hall, connects C-Square to the district’s forecourt. This allows the museum square to be an extension to the public realm of Kerkrade, while also allowing train passengers to wait in C-City for their connection. The combination of public transport with a museum district fits perfectly into the ambition of a “museum without boundaries”: even passers-by become participants.
The new design consists of a composition of strong solitary volumes: a sphere, a beam and a cube. Their pure geometry and omnidirectional orientation is a response to the amorphous and introvert character of the existing museum. A large part of the 7,500 m2 new program is located underground: The existing sunken square will be extended underneath the new volumes, creating a continuous underground landscape connecting all the facilities of C-City.
All stairs, walls and floors of the underground landscape are made of red concrete to emphasize the connecting character of the space. It implies an excavation which – together with the experience of descending into the underground space – refers to the mining past of Kerkrade.
Cube, the design museum, is literally a cube. A glass plinth creates the illusion of a volume hovering above the red underground landscape. Cube is a vertical exhibition machine offering its programmers maximal freedom and flexibility. The various floors of the building create space for a changing set of design labs and exhibitions.