Rotterdam-based Shift Architecture Urbanism has broken ground on the C-City trinity of complimentary public amenities: Continium, Cube and Columbus, all located in Kerkgrade, along the Dutch-German border. The concept is to house technology, science, and design in one museum district, centered on the existing Continium, which is a science and technology discovery center. Cube will be a design museum with exposition space and labs, the first of its kind in the Netherlands. The third component, Columbus, is an Earth Theatre in the shape of an inverse planetarium (the first in Europe) with a 3D cinema in partnership with National Geographic.



image courtesy of shift architecture urbanism


The new design consists of a composition of strong solitary volumes: a sphere, a beam and a cube. Much of the 80,000 sq. ft. addition is located underground, including the existing museum’s sunken square, which will be extended underneath the new buildings, to create an uninterrupted underground landscape connecting all the facilities of C-City, including the new museum square C-Square as well as a central entrance hall, restaurant, student labs, patio and connecting tunnels.




The Cube exterior is a reflective sheet of polished aluminum sliced by a glass plinth, allowing natural light into the temporary exhibition area underneath. Modular floor plates render lab and exhibition space interchangeable. The top floor is a multipurpose event space with panoramic view over the project. Works on exhibition will be curated by C-city along with the prestigious German Red Dot Award, London’s Design Museum, and Cooper Hewitt in New York.




Columbus is a spherical concrete building covered with a white coating, half of which protrudes above ground while the other half is hidden beneath it. The underground portion is occupied by the earth theater, where a 50 ft. wide hollow projection can be viewed from two rings of glass balconies, simulating the view of an astronaut looking down upon Earth. In the upper dome, the first National Geographic 3D cinema in Europe will show films produced by the iconic publication.




Finally, the ribbed 260 ft. black beam extends on columns above the sunken entrance zone, serving as a roof to the pedestrian route from the train station through the museum district.




The complex will mark the entrance into the city for both train passengers and visitors arriving by car from the main access road. C-City is expected to open its doors at the end of 2015, with a budget of about twenty million euros.