An important aspect of architecture is making buildings readable; directing users to where they have to go without the use of signage is an essential part of good design. When it comes to the functionality of buildings, there are few things worse that having visitors wandering around looking for the entrance. Dutch office NL Architects have used materials that stop cars from knocking down cyclists to make the check-in pavilion at IPKW bright as day.
This gatehouse at this Arnhem business park is essential to the security of the park. The most striking part of the renovation of the gatehouse is its retroflective cladding. The technology works like the irises of cat eyes, light is reflected back to its source without an angle of incidence or scattering light particles. The original gatehouse contained infrastructure that could not be demolished, so the renovation involved a delicate procedure of dismantling the old before erecting the new. A glass box was created, giving the guards inside 360-degree visibility of the park and the access to it. The volume above the glass box holds all the previous infrastructure. This box has been clad in the magical retroflective film. During the day, the box stands out against the sky due to its black coloring. At sunset it becomes a golden beacon showing the way home for the daytime workers. Streetlights turn it into an ephemeral white while break lights make it blaze red.
The simplicity of the design makes the show-stopping beacon the star. Once again, the right materials in the right place have made something that could have been mundane, spectacular.