HEERHUGOWAARD (NL) - Cool is a new centre for art and culture in Heerhugowaard, designed by Soeters Van Eldonk architecten. The name ('kool' is the Dutch word for cabbage) carries not just the connotation of 'cool' and 'trendy' but also alludes the local inspiration for the shape of this building – red cabbage.
The firm is well known for its literal translation of images into architecture. The most striking example is the circus theatre in Zandvoort (1986), which, with its fluttering ceramic flags, is unmistakably a centre of entertainment. In Heerhugowaard, the task was to design a theatrical and contextual building that would suit the site. But the surroundings – a refurbished town centre – provided no distinctive themes capable of lending the building identity. During the design phase there was nothing but an anonymous, introverted shopping centre in grey concrete brick. Even the history of the village environment offered little in the way of interesting starting points. In the end the architects drew inspiration from the coat of arms of Heerhugowaard (two herons flanking an ear of corn) and the agricultural environs, where red cabbage is a major crop.