Culture Cluster

On May 13th 2000 an explosion in a fireworks warehouse claimed 23 lives and destroyed the 40-hectare neighbourhood of Roombeek. The blast destroyed hundreds of homes and many of Enschede’s industrial monuments, endangering its rich textile heritage. The Culture Cluster designed by SeARCH preserved remaining traces of this history and merged three local museums into a new mixed-use district within the remnants of the former Rozendaal factory.

In an effort to revitalise existing cultural institutions, the Textile Museum, the Natural Museum and the Twente History Museum were rehoused within a new museum and research centre, now called the Museumfabriek, in the heart of the neighbourhood.

Particular care was given to retaining and restoring as much of the surviving industrial heritage as possible. A warehouse, the remaining factory wall and several other surviving structures encircle the Cluster Cluster.

The Culture Cluster is a unique mix of housing, commercial and cultural functions, which respects the industrial heritage while providing high-quality, inventive spaces for living & working.

The initial brief stipulated that an apartment tower should be the centrepiece of the Culture Cluster. However, SeARCH flipped the programme, replacing the tower’s residential function with the museum’s non-public functions. This allowed the new homes to be directly connected to the street and the tower to act as a huge billboard for the museum.

Existing elements and new interventions are intertwined within the Culture Cluster. Enschede’s rich textile history is expressed in the ‘woven’ skin of the tower. The saw-tooth profile existing factory wall is extruded to generate the roof form and a pedestrian bridge connects the tower to the warehouse on the opposite side of the ‘culture street’.

The new complex to the West containing an entrance foyer, studios, temporary exhibition spaces and offices is connected to the warehouse underground. This subterranean link combined with the bridge above creates a loop from the new building to the warehouse and back, negating the need to cover the street & enclose 1000m2 of inefficient floor space.

Culture Cluster
City of Enschede
Enschede, NL
museum, ateliers, offices, library, housing, restaurant and outdoor spaces
Scope of work:
Complete design commission
Twense Welle, Christian Richters, SeARCH