Mecanoo propose Eden Project-style eco-attraction for the Netherlands' Soestdijk Palace

The royal family has always cherished the relationship with the surrounding landscape. The plan for Eden Soestdijk responds to this in a beautiful manner
– Francine Houben, creative director at Mecanoo

Dutch architects Mecanoo have taken inspiration from the UK’s Eden Project to propose an expansive experimental garden in the grounds of the Netherlands' Soestdijk Palace.

The Dutch government recently launched a competition to redevelop the royal residence and estate, located in the town of Baarn. In response, Mecanoo have partnered with exhibition designers Kossmann.dejong and engineering consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV to develop their vision for an eco-attraction, called Eden Soestdijk.

An architectural greenhouse winding through the forest behind the palace gardens is the centrepiece of the masterplan. Visitors would be taken on an interactive expedition through different green landscapes – including a tropical rainforest and a subterranean world – highlighting topics of circularity, ecological balance, food production and the social aspects of sustainability.

The results of climate change would become visible in an icy arctic landscape and a recreation of the Martian landscape would highlight the fragility of the earth from a cosmic perspective.

In addition to the vast greenhouse, the existing royal gardens would be fully restored to form unique and beautiful individual sections linked to the theme of sustainability. Meanwhile, the chambers within the palace would be restored and turned into exhibition galleries and cultural spaces showcasing the history of the estate and its residents.

The wings of the building are planned to house interactive exhibition spaces “that display the beauty of nature from a cultural, historical and scientific perspective” in a bid to “motivate visitors to interact with the world in a more sustainable manner.”

“The Palace Soestdijk Estate is one of the most fairytale-like surroundings of the Netherlands, making it the ideal canvas for Eden Soestdijk," said Francine Houben, creative director of Mecanoo. "The royal family has always cherished the relationship with the surrounding landscape. The plan for Eden Soestdijk responds to this in a beautiful manner.”

Anton Valk, chairman of the Eden Soestdijk Foundation – which is leading the plan – highlighted the international appeal and economic, educative and cultural benefits the project would bring to the Netherlands.

“The world is facing pressure from increasingly larger and more complex problems when it comes to water, food, climate and energy,” he said. “Eden Soestdijk wants to tackle these problems and contribute to a more sustainable society by stimulating and inspiring visitors to change their behaviour in a positive way.”

The proposal has been developed in dialogue with residents, local entrepreneurs and businesses. According to the foundation, more than half a million yearly visitors would come to Eden Soestdijk from 2020 onward, including 50,000 students, feeding almost €57m (US$62.2m, £51.2m) into the economy.

Cornwall's Eden Project has inspired the plan with its two enormous biomes filled with plants collected from many diverse climates and environments. The template has proven popular with international attractions developers, and an Eden centre is also currently in the works for China.

Eden Project  Mecanoo  Netherlands  sustainability  architecture  design  Eden Soestdijk  Soestdijk Palace  Baarn 
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FEATURE: Interview – Francine Houben

FEATURE: Interview – Tim Smit

Dutch architects Mecanoo have taken inspiration from the UK’s Eden Project to propose an expansive experimental garden in the grounds of the Netherlands' Soestdijk Palace. The Dutch government recently launched a competition to redevelop the royal residence and estate, located in the town of Baarn. In response, Mecanoo have partnered with exhibition designers Kossmann.dejong and engineering consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV to develop their vision for an eco-attraction, called Eden Soestdijk. An
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An architectural greenhouse winding through the forest behind the palace gardens is the main icon of the plan / Mecanoo
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