Fraeylemaborg, Slochteren

Folly, Fraeylemaborg NL, Project Team: René van Zuuk, Jan Heimer, Dirk de Groot, Client: landgoed Fraeylemaborg, Design: 2014

Fraeylemaborg is an estate of 23 hectares in the city of Slochteren, the Netherlands. The main building was originally constructed seven centuries ago, but took its final form at the end of the 18th century. During the years, a number of important families lived on the estate. The last owners, the Thomassen à Thuessink van der Hoop van Slochteren family, sold the estate to the Gerrit van Houten foundation in 1972, and it became a museum. In it, you can see how the last owners lived. Temporary art exhibitions are hosted in the Coach House. The current museum does not have enough space to show its entire collection, and therefore, it issued a competition for several new exhibition follies to display special items. The copper chamber is one of the follies to be built.

The proposed design is the second among five different alternatives made. The experimental and visually stimulating resulting structure is striking, because of both its shape and the used materials. The red copper color is not only a nod to the history of the Fraeylemaborg, but gives the folly an eccentric appearance. In the summer, it will shine in the sunlight. In autumn, when the leaves fall, the folly will be visible to its full extent and harmonize with the surrounding color nuances.

The design is the the product of an innovative technique that the office is currently developing. When René van Zuuk left his teaching position in the Technical University of Eindhoven (2010), he started a project together with students, whose aim was examine how 3D printing could influence future changes in architecture. Starting from a traditional house, it was examined in various steps how it would change with the application of the ever-evolving 3D printing technology. The result of the experiment was published in an AW magazine article and showcased in an exhibition. In the meantime, 3D printing became widespread, since one has the ability to make various shapes, regardless of complexity. However, the process is very slow, suitable for making prototypes or small objects, where speed is not a factor to consider. Within architecture, 3D printing is used to make models, as 3D printing buildings would take years with the existing technology.

An alternative to that, is a computer-controlled technology that provides comparable design freedom to a 3D printer, but can also produce results in little time. With a CNC hot wire cutter, 3D projects can be cut in high speed form large blocks of EPS or XPS foam. Finishing these materials with a hot spray coating for example, creates a strong bonding connection. A building material is formed, that combines strength, insulation, and weather resistance. The hot wire practically melts the foam surface before even reaching it, allowing for greater precision, since no force is applied on the surface.

The office has built a CNC 3D cutter in the workplace, in order to make models and investigate the possibilities of the technology in scale. The free-form projects cut in the machine, are produced by writing computer 3D scripts. The aim is to cut complex shapes, while at the same time producing minimum residual material.

The Copper Chamber is cut from just one rectangular piece of EPS300 foam with a size of 4.5x4.5x0.5m, leaving no residual material. The object is cut by the hot wire machine, using a computer script. The produced rings are stacked, and can be finished with a hot glue spray coating. The result is a robust weather-resistant pavilion that will last for years. The tapered folly ends in a skylight that is cut into the contours of Fraeylemaborg. The part of the rectangle that was cut to create the skylight, is used as a base for the pavilion exhibits. The pavilion is finished with a copper coating, and sealed watertight. The pavilion is placed on one of the open grass fields in the forest surrounding the museum. The ground on the placing spot is raised in order to create a mound, which is part of the design. The foundation consists of a prefabricated standard concrete plate. The pavilion is cut in the factory, but due to its light weight, it can be assembled by students on site.