Lifeguards, Nessellande, Netherlands
What does a building look like if it is closed in the winter and only used during the summer season?
It is actually possible to tell what season it is based on the appearance of the building. The building is not used during the winter, when it appears more like a closed and somewhat abstract object. But the arrival of the sun is celebrated here: the screens are raised, the façades slide open and the flags come out and flutter. The summer sun opens up the building.
The way the building looks is determined by the changing seasons.
The lifeguard office building is located where land and water converge.
Its lower position in relation to the boulevard is emphasised by a horizontal divide: the base forms a robust plinth in light yellow-grey in harmony with the colour of the beach. The top is open, transparent and airy as an omnidirectional object.
From the boulevard, the transition between these two materials lies exactly at eye level – appearing as if the wooden superstructure could also extend out to the water. The transition of the materials reinforces the depth effect of this illusion of perspective. As far as views, it enjoys a central location in terms of beach life. One end faces the water in front of the lifeguard station while the other end faces the boulevard in front of the police station. The building is situated near the access ramp to the beach and lies on the Menorca Avenue extension.
Although having a functional building is always important, it is even more crucial when it comes to lifeguards. Every second counts in an emergency.
The basic shape is a rectangle, with the observation deck facing the water. The streamlined staircase has been placed next to the deck, providing a fast route to the lifeboat in the event of an emergency. The other end of the building contains a police post for receiving visitors and filing reports. The ground floor houses toilet facilities for beach visitors, a first aid room and the storage area for the lifeboat.
A small building like this is ideal for experimenting with textures, colours and details with the aim of achieving a unique customised solution.
Inspiration for the texture was found in the beach experience and in the filtration of light.
The concrete has been given a special colour and a light yellow pigment, which softens the grey tones of the concrete and creates a visual link to the colours of the beach.
The wooden louvres are made of Louro Preto, which will gradually fade into a uniform colour, eventually turning the wood into a colour similar to that of the concrete.
The concrete features a horizontal relief with several different rhythmic patterns. The inverted pattern of the wood is designed to provide a counterbalance. A positive and a negative. The patterns of the wood are partially retained as shading elements at the recessed windows. The front of the concrete and wood is detailed in a single line and the difference in the relief and the transition of materials creates a distinctive image.
The steel structure is positioned in line with the concrete walls. This gives users the option of adjusting the position of the internal walls in the future to accommodate new perspectives. This ensures that the building can stay flexible in terms of layout.
The structure of the ground floor consists of repeated modular elements. Both the concrete substructure and the lightweight superstructure are designed according to a fixed size system, which reduces construction time and costs.
In the evening at sunset, the screens are lowered and the office makes use of free cooling (natural cross ventilation). The cool evening breeze flows through the rooms.
From a structural point of view, the solid walls have a high accumulative capacity, which is ideal for night cooling.
The lightweight superstructure can be opened up to its maximum so that every single breeze circulates through the building to cool it down during the day. The wooden louvre screens prevent excessive heat and have been continued through to the rooftop, providing a ventilated tropical roof. The lighting illuminates the office like a gentle beacon of light shining onto the beach.