Celebrating King’s Day, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander will open Het Hof van Nederland (The Court of the Netherlands) in Dordrecht. Mecanoo was responsible for transforming the monumental court complex into a compelling museum experience of Dutch cultural heritage.
Het Hof van Nederland is a historic location of great importance. It was here in 1572 that the foundation was laid for the independent Dutch Republic, precursor to the current Kingdom of the Netherlands. In Dordrecht, representatives of all the cities of Holland, held the Eerste Vrije Statenvergadering (First Assembly of the Free States). This secret meeting was an act of rebellion against King Philip II of Spain.
The complex is located in the city centre of Dordrecht, consisting of a number of internally connected buildings around a subdued square. Four entrance gates connect Het Hof to the old city in every direction. Citizens use the courtyard as a shortcut through the town, whereas passers-by often discover it by accident. In restoring the national monument, the building itself was considered the main museum piece.
Together with the client, Mecanoo sought design solutions that would let visitors experience both the origins of the country and the history of Dordrecht. Bringing the cultural heritage back to its original state allows the building to convey its own story. Carefully designed interventions have been implemented to transform the building into a welcoming museum. With visuals, sound and objects visitors are drawn into the tale of the Netherlands’ beginnings.
The combination of exhibitions and multimedia presentations, inside a monumental building complex, make visiting Het Hof van Nederland a truly impressive experience.