Not all dogs are called Rover. And not all buildings have four walls and a roof. Take, for example, the visitor centre in the Amsterdamse Bos, the subject of this week’s Know Your City. This building is shaped like a cone without a top, positioned on an oval ground plan. Hence its nickname ‘De Molshoop’ (the molehill).
The visitor centre’s unusual form suits its recreational function. The building is situated at the main entrance to the Amsterdamse Bos, not far from the junction Amstelveenseweg / Van Nijenrodeweg. It contains an information desk and a shop, the ‘Boswinkel’, which sells, among other things, walking maps and nature publications. There is also a permanent exhibition about the history of the Amsterdamse Bos, its nature and wildlife.
The visitor centre was designed by the Friesian architect and artist Gunnar Daan. The building derives its stability from a concrete core, combined with a steel frame that extends partially beyond the exterior wall. The steel structure divides the elevation into tapered vertical segments, which are clad with wood. On the ground floor and upper storey are bands of windows of varying height. Above the windows are large canopies that temper the daylight and block solar heat.
A stone’s throw from the visitor centre is a second ‘molehill’. The restaurant and grand-café De Bosbaan is housed in an identical building and looks out over a rowing course that was created in the 1930s. The restaurant and the visitor centre were completed in 2003 and were built partially to replace the Bosmuseum, which was situated at the other end of Bosbaan, near the farm Boerderij Meerzicht. This museum was housed in a temporary building that had fallen into disrepair. The new build at the top of Bosbaan was part of a plan to give the main entrance to the Amsterdamse Bos the character of a true entrance area.
The visitor centre is now more than ten years old and is in need of a facelift. The interior is currently undergoing refurbishment, while the building remains open to the public. The immediate area around the building is also being improved, with less asphalt and more greenery, a better view and outdoor seating. This renovation programme is scheduled for completion in 2015.