Weerwater Chapel, Almere

Multicultural chapel, pavilion, Project Team: René van Zuuk, Dirk de Groot, Design: 2014, Floor area: 80 m²

Almere is a modern garden city, with tree and water arteries leading directly to the city center. Since the beginning, the relationship between the city and nature has been carefully crafted. The first residents arrived from the city of Amsterdam, and found themselves amidst a growing oasis. Open spaces, water, and nature, are still the major qualities of the city. The growing Green City movement perfectly fits the development of Almere, as it is important to use the existing city as a starting point for future green development. The Weerwater lake area fits this concept perfectly. It has a lot of recreational functions to offer, such as a tourist boat, a cable water ski facility, canoe and sailing boats for hire, a camping ground, and a yacht harbor. The lake is surrounded by the A6 highway, two parks, housing, water sport facilities and the world famous Almere city center, designed by OMA and Rem Koolhas. The center forms a new, multi-layered, high-density urban core, with buildings of various heights, boasting green roofs.

The quality of the architecture and urban planning of the city center is very high. But the relationship with the Weerwater lake is poor. This has been improved recently with the addition of piers, routes where you can come close to the water. To reinforce the pier use, in this project, we propose to extend one of the piers and crown it with a multicultural chapel, a building type available in every full-grown city, but still missing from the Almere city center. It can be a place of happiness and joy, such as in marriage occasions, but also a place for introspection, prayer, and mourning the loss of a loved one. A space for celebration and solemnity in December, and silence, reflection and small gatherings during the rest of the year. It is placed close to both the town hall and the hospital. Architecturally, the environmentally-friendly construction must fit in with the city center and be expressive enough to be able to stand by itself. The chapel function will be beneficial to the residents of Almere, and complement the ideas of the Green City movement, due to its proximity to nature.