Kaap Skil – Mecanoo architecten

architect_ Mecanoo architecten
location_  Texel, Netherlands
project year_ 2009
photography_ Christian Richters

museum interior design_  Kossmann.dejong, Amsterdam
project management_ ABC Management Groep, Assen
structural engineer_ Pieters Bouwtechniek, Utrecht
services engineer_ Peter Prins, Woerden
client_ Maritiem & Jutters Museum, Oudeschild
contractors_  Bouwcombinatie De Geus & Duin Bouwbedrijf, Broek op Langedijk
Sawmills for wooden cladding of façades: Pieter Dros, Texel
awards_  Dutch Daylight Award 2012; Architizer A+ Award 2013
area_  1,200 m2

from the architects_

Tourist attraction
The island of Texel is situated in the Waddenzee (Wadden Sea) and is the largest of the Dutch Wadden Islands. Every year over a million tourists visit the island, which is only accessible by plane, boat or ferry. Few however will be familiar with the glorious history of Texel and its links with the Dutch East India Company. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Company’s fleet used the anchorage of Texel as its departure point for expeditions to the Far East. The ships waited there for a favourable wind before weighing anchor and sailing off to the Orient. While they waited, maintenance work and small repairs were carried out, victuals and water were brought on board and families could see their loved ones one last time. Many painters visited the ‘Reede van Texel’ (Texel’s offshore anchorage) to depict on canvas the fleet of the Dutch Republic. In the new entrance building of the maritime and beachcombers museum, Kaap Skil, in the hamlet of Oudeschild, the public is taken back in time to the Dutch Golden Age. The showpiece of the museum is an eighteen-metre long, four-metre deep model of the Reede van Texel, displaying in great detail the impressive spectacle of the dozens of ships anchored off the coast of the Wadden Island.

Typical gable roofs

The museum is designed with four playfully linked gabled roofs that interpret the rhythm of the surrounding roof tops, which seen from the sea, resemble waves rising out above the dyke. ‘The sea takes away and the sea provides’ – this is a saying that the people of Texel know very well. For hundreds of years they have made grateful use of driftwood from stranded ships or wrecks to build their houses and barns. The wooden facade of Kaap Skil is a good example of this time-hallowed tradition of recycling. The vertical wooden slats are made of sawn hardwood sheet-piling from the North Holland Canal and have been given a new life just like the objects in the museum collection. From within, the glass facade in front of the wooden slats allows an inviting view of the outdoor museum terrain and the famous North Holland skies to visitors of the museum café. Inside the building the slats cast a linear pattern of daylight and shadow creating an atmosphere infused with light and shelter.

Daylight and artificial light

The entrance and the museum café form a natural frontier between the world of the Reede van Texel in the basement and that of the underwater archaeology on the first floor. The contrast between the two worlds is reinforced by the different experiences of light and space. In the basement visitors are drawn around the exhibition by projections and animations, creating an intimate space that harbours a sense of mystery. On the first floor the North Holland sky floods the objects on display with light. The movable showcases of robust steel frames and glass create a transparent effect so that the objects in the collection seem to float within the space. Under the high gabled roofs the visitor is empowered to witness the sizable collection, the museum grounds and the village of Oudeschild in one glance.

About the wooden slats

Mecanoo architecten searched for a facade material for Kaap Skil that would be sustainable in the broadest sense: aesthetic quality, longevity and environmentally friendly. The wooden slats used in the facades come from tropical hardwood wood piling from the North Holland Canal. A Mecanoo employee came across the wood after he had contacted the North Holland CO2 hotline about used building wood. He was sent to a contractor in the north of the Provence of Noord-Holland (close to Texel), who was commissioned by the department of Public Works to replace the 25 year old wood piling from the North Holland Canal. The wood piles were transported to Texel and cut into slats by the local sawyer Pieter Dros, yielding 10 kilometers worth.
The un-sawed edges have been deliberately placed on the visible side of the façade. After forty years of residence under water the white, gray, rust red, purple, brown colours are beautifully weathered. The untreated Azobé wood is strong, and the curvatures are perfect for a maritime museum. The vertical wooden battens (50 x 50 mm) cover both the front, the rear side as well as the roof. The 70mm spacing creates transparency into the museum if you stand in front of it: you look through to the rear museum grounds. Outside a tight alternation of open and sheltered is created and from inside, a fascinating and beautiful play of daylight and shadows.

Courtesy of Mecanoo architecten.