Every year in autumn, approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted over a 32-hectare plot of land in the west of the Netherlands. Each spring, the park hosts just over 1 million visitors over an eight-week opening period (mid-March to mid-May). For those unfamiliar, Keukenhof started life as a private kitchen garden in the grounds of a Dutch castle until the mayor of Lisse opened it to the public in 1949. Nowadays, it is one of the largest flower gardens in the world. In time for this year’s opening, global firm Mecanoo – with headquarters in Delft, just 40-km of the blooming attraction – realised a project to give the tourist hotspot a spectacular entrance.

The architect describes the gatehouse as a ‘transition between the outside world and the world of Keukenhof and all its flowers.’ Situated at the main entrance, the design is characterised by a plane-framed timber roof which spans two commercial units with an emphasis on the geometric qualities of the structural materiality. ‘While walking through the entrance, you will see the beautiful Dutch skies above, framed by timber triangles. Look down and you will see an intriguing pattern of triangular shadows on the ground.’

As well as creating a gateway to the flower gardens, the building is commercially practical; information desks, retail spaces, a cafe and staff offices enrich the interior and provide public and private facilities. With the 2017 season fully underway, the Keukenhof gatehouse is being put to the test for the first time. ‘On a beautiful spring day, the glazed façade can be opened almost entirely, blending with the interior,’ the architect comments. ‘Ponds with fountains provide a suitable ambience for a pleasant day out and visitors are treated to views over the largest tulip field,’ marking the project’s place as more than just an indulgent entrance.

Plan – Level 0

Plan – Level 1

Elevation – North

Long Section

Location Stationsweg, Lisse, Netherlands