Located along a 20 mile stretch of dyke in Afsluitdijk, Netherlands, an iconic tower rises from an equally iconic form. This is the World Sustainability Center by Studio SHIFT. Or their proposal for one anyways. This state-of-the-art research facility offers a park-like setting near the Wadden Sea, for the coming together of the local and global communities of educational, institutional, and corporate realms. It will be a hot-spot for the investigation of emerging technologies and techniques in sustainability. In an appropriate and just a little cynical response to the building’s program and purview, exhibitions on topics of sustainability are located on floating piers alongside some that are incorporated into the surrounding natural landscape.

Courtesy of Studio SHIFT

Besides the iconoclasm of the Center’s form and tower, another note-worthy feature is the building’s skin. It is a amalgamous panel system or differing degrees of solidity and transparency. Incorporated within this system are solar panels, perforated screen panels, and void panels offering a clear view through to the programs located behind. These include a theatre, gift shop, public exhibition space, and a hotel. The screen panels have the added possibility of acting as a scaffold habitat for energy-producing plants such as algae. Being located on this strip between two bodies of water- the Wadden Sea and Lake Ijssel- the building makes use of the lake as both a rainwater collection site and as a cooling mechanism for the buildings mechanical systems. In addition, a waterfront amphitheater is created partially below water level which is open to public, drawing further attention to the sustainable focus of the center and making a real-world tie to how this relates to the issues it presents for the Netherlands.


Courtesy of Studio SHIFT

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