Programme to include “super dunes, rain chambers and horticultural towers” to educate visitors about climate change

MVRDV has unveiled plans for a series of large projects across the southern Netherlands celebrating Vincent Van Gogh.

The Rotterdam-based practice is working with the Van Gogh Homeland Foundation, the Efteling amusement park and regional leaders on a programme of works in the province of North Brabant, where Van Gogh was born.

It aims to educate visitors on the future effect that climate change will have on the region’s landscape through installations that will include temporary “super dunes, horticultural towers, rain chambers, and heather houses”.

Images released by the studio also show a tall open structure with a giant outline of Van Gogh’s face cut out from the middle and an orange slide running down from the cut-out’s chin.

The greenery-covered structure has several pitched-roof structures built onto its open floors, which appear to house exhibition rooms showing oversized images or videos of Van Gogh’s artworks.

MVRDV, which also designed London’s ill-fated Marble Arch Mound, said the ambition of the programme is to “show, in an attractive and accessible way, how the landscape that inspired Vincent van Gogh 150 years ago can be made more sustainable and greener in the future.”

The plans were handed over to North Brabant deputy Stijn Smeulders in early March. They comprise three elements, the Van Gogh Homeland Experience, an attraction that is being developed in collaboration with Efteling, Van Gogh Homeland Biennale, and the Van Gogh Homeland Atelier, a hub from which the attraction and biennale will be developed.

The first biennale will be held in 2025 and will include outdoor exhibitions inspired by climate change and Van Gogh’s vision of the Brabant landscape.

MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas said the biennale will not lecture visitors about climate change but allow them to experience its effects.

“If you think about the climate challenge, you have to dare to think big,” he said. 

“Exploring so many possibilities can get the ball rolling. Our outdoor exhibition will soon consist of numerous pavilions that will be placed in the landscape, like a string of beads. 

“We do not give visitors a moralistic message, but let them feel climate change – the dryness, the wetness. 

“We also show possible solutions such as a garden tower or a super dune. In my opinion, the task for the coming period lies in the interweaving of city with nature, and of nature with city. We must be open to a critical approach to each other’s ideals.”

MVRDV’s 25m-tall Marble Arch Mound at the western end of Oxford Street became an international laughing stock last year when it opened before it was finished, with dried out plants on the mound’s slopes and large sections still covered in plastic.

The practice later said it should have walked away from the project, adding that it had “never before experienced such nonchalance and laxity” with its design work.