Heerlen polishes up its Roman past with new Thermen museum


Design for the new Thermenmuseum in Heerlen Image Plotvis.

Last Tuesday, the new building plans for the Thermen Museum were unveiled. Kraaijvanger Architects and TomDavid Architects have designed a new roof for the two-thousand-year-old Roman bathhouse.

The new design incorporates references to Heerlen's Roman history, such as the pattern of Roman ceramics in the facade of the high volume. The greenery on the entrance side of the complex also fits in with the atmosphere that characterized the bathhouse (dating from the first century AD and excavated again in 1941) in the settlement of Coriovallum.

'Heerlen must regain pride in its past'. ... 'This was one of the richest and most important Roman settlements in the Netherlands. You can feel that when you walk through the city.'

Culture councillor Jordy Clemens

Interior of the Thermenmuseum new style, with the 2000 year old Roman bathhouse. Image Plotvis.

The current Thermen Museum dates back to 1977. Among the people of Heerlen, the current museum has a swimming pool association. According to Dirk Jan Postel, in the 1970s a space frame was chosen for technical reasons, a then promising light construction technique with thin steel tubes. This was practical because the building is primarily a canopy that has to carry as large a span as possible with as little weight as possible. The fact that the architects painted the steel supports bright yellow did not contribute to an aesthetic experience. I think it's ugly too,' says alderman Clemens. But that is not the reason why it had to go. The bathhouse foundations were insufficiently protected from the elements. And square metres had to be added.

The newly built museum will be part of the Roman Quarter, the area development around the city hall and the complete transformation of the inner city. The final design will be made in the coming period.

click here to read the full article from Volkskrant and here to read the Architectenweb article.

Non numeranda, sed ponderanda sunt argumenta - Marcus Tullius Cicero