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a house for Vrijdag

city block for amateur art

VRIJDAG is a house for amateur art in the broadest sense. It is more than a collection of rooms and more than one house. VRIJDAG is a real city block. Several city buildings form a garland of buildings around a enclosed city garden. VRIJDAG is part of the fabric of the inner city of Groningen and fits naturally into existing structures. VRIJDAG is the Forum's neighbour and completely complementary. Not smooth but rough. Not finished but always changing. Not singular but composed. Not an object but an organism. The power of VRIJDAG is to be found inside.

location: Groningen
status: competition
client: municipality of Groningen
year: 2021
consultant, building costs: Bureau Bouwkunde
consultant, signage, shutters: Het Echte Werk, Job Rompa
illustrations: team KSA, with special thanks to Josh Stevenson Brown and Keiti Lige
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The cityblock between its prominent neighbours, the Forum, the church, the 'provinciehuis'....

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The iconic painted shutters of the provincial government building serve as a reference for the decoration of Vrijdag's shutters.

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The new shutters are an adaptation of existing form elements: local, specific and individual, just like Vrijdag...

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The new use is hidden behind urban facades that will probably last longer than VRIJDAG itself. Yet VRIJDAG is far from invisible, far from modest. Literally and figuratively, it turns itself inside out, shows the city its special lining wherever possible. At the entrances, in the interior, alongside walls, in niches, window openings and shutters. VRIJDAG shows the city what is happening inside in surprising places and ways.

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The plans are compact with multifunctional spaces carefully related to each other. The theatre spaces on the first and second floors form an 'enfilade' with theatrical potential.
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The differentiation of the rooms has been elaborated in the section. All spaces offer possibilities for appropriation and change.

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A visit to VRIJDAG is a walk along open staircases, theatre studios, showcases, windows to the inside and windows to the outside, workshops and studios. Everywhere you see people at work, people making music, dancing, playing. VRIJDAG is seeing and being seen, playing, working and experimenting.

Structure and content

The house is open, unpolished, adaptable, informal, unique. It is designed as a solid framework for changing use and never finished. VRIJDAG makes a visible distinction between the unchanging framework of the building, the changing infill of heavy walls and floors and interior elements that make the spaces usable and specific every day. VRIJDAG is radically sustainable and makes it’s ambitions productive, useful and visible as all it’s materials remain uncovered. The concrete structure offers support, the infills of hemp, wood, plaster, clay and ceramics provide individuality, atmosphere and acoustic and thermal comfort.

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the workshops onder the timber shed roofs

Coat and lining: appropriation

Like the entire city block, each room is conceived as a robust coat with an adaptable, refined lining. The lining contains the technical and practical infrastructure that students, artists and teachers need. It contains storage spaces, cabling, sockets and lighting, and offers space for appropriation. The lining can then be filled with flexible elements such as curtains, mirrors, benches, cupboards and display cases. The lining makes appropriation meaningful, effective, fun and (re)achievable.

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Everything is theatre

VRIJDAG is a podium for more than visual arts, music and theatre. The theatre is also a large stage for the city, a studio, a workshop, a gallery. A studio is stage, backstage and stage set. A cupboard is an easel and a notice board, a staircase is a grandstand, stage and backdrop. A corridor is a garden room, gallery and lounge. A music studio is also a drawing studio, façades and plant pots serve as benches and stages, a curtain becomes a piece of scenery, a coastal work, a work of art and a canvas. A shutter is a signboard, canvas, poster. Everything is theatre. Welcome at VRIJDAG!