Pier (Haarlemmermeer Pavilion)
Haarlemmermeer The Netherlands
Hydra Pier is a permanent
structure built originally as a pavilion for Haarlemmermeer's Floriade
exhibition in 2002 - a massive, once-a-decade Dutch horticultural fair.
The pavilion is built out
into (actually floating onto) a lake,
and is full of symbolism about the
boundaries of land and water, in this reclaimed area below sea level.
Intrinsic to the design is the idea of water continuously flowing over the
roof and walls of the building, beneath which the structural-glass
construction dematerializes. As Asymptote describe it:
Hydra-Pier... attempts to appear dematerialized, computer-generated and
liquid by virtue of the fact that it is realized formally and
tectonically. We drew on ideas pertaining to the virtual that go back as
far as seventeenth-century waterworks, spectacles and follies. In the
case of the Hydra-Pier, the water running over the roof of the building
is not a spectacle of the movement of water but a spectacle of the
dematerialization of the building mass...
of dissolution and transformation differs from older ideas of collage or
cubist painting and is more akin to simulation, virtualization, or the
new digital camouflage skins that read and simulate their surroundings
in order to disappear... To be inside the Hydra-Pier, with the liquid
above reflected in the shadows on the ground, is to have a visceral
experience that cannot be articulated verbally or read in a conventional
linguistic or semiotic way.
This is the
kind of digital architecture that wins awards, as indeed it has.
Technically, the use of the curved, laminated glass with sufficient
strength to support the water on the roof without heavy mullions was an
engineering breakthrough, and essential to the dematerialization theme.
But the brief was to create a permanent work of architecture, and in
that respect a visitor to the pavilion today can only be disappointed.
water flows over the structure and it looks more abandoned than
dematerialized. Locked gates close off the approach, without
explanations or opening times. When I visited, the pavilion was closed
and empty except for a couple of enterprising fisherman, using the pier
as a rather over-engineered fishing pier.
Simon Glynn 2005
How to visit
Haarlemmermeer is a small town just next to the southwest corner of
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. The Hydra Pavilion is on the northwest
side of the Floriade lake, itself to the northwest edge of
To get there by
car or taxi from Schiphol Airport, take the A4 towards the southwest, and
turn right onto the N201 through Haarlemmermeer. On the far side of town,
where this road is called Kruisweg, turn right onto the N205 (Drie Merenweg).
A parking area close to the pavilion will be shortly on your right.
I have not found
an easy way of reaching the pavilion by public transport.