Mecanoo developed the proposal alongside exhibition architects Kossmann Dejong, engineering consultants Royal Haskoning DHV, and the Eden Project organisation itself. As part of the plan, the palace will be turned into an exhibition and meeting center, while two architecturally distinct greenhouses will be added to the surrounding park landscape.
An architectural greenhouse positioned in the forest behind the palace will be the focal point of the development. Here, visitors will be taken on an interactive expedition through different landscapes — including tropical, high-tech agricultural, and subterranean — that highlight the importance of biodiversity, efficient and sustainable food production, and the results and effects of climate change.
The chambers within the palace, which showcase the rich history of the estate and its residents, will be restored in order to maintain their original character. The building will be used for cultural and business events while serving as an incubator space where entrepreneurs, experts and students can exchange and develop ideas. Meanwhile, interactive exhibition spaces will showcase nature from a cultural, historical and scientific perspective.
More than half a million visitors are expected to come to Eden Soestdijk each year from 2020 onwards, with a forecast €57 million ($82.7 million) being put back into the economy. In addition, the park offers opportunities for internships and apprenticeships, as well as positions for those with difficulty breaking into the job market. As Eden Soestdijk is being developed as a non-profit organisation, all continued proceeds will be reinvested in the further development of the estate.
“The Palace Soestdijk estate is one of the most fairytale-like surroundings of The Netherlands: the ideal canvas for Eden Soestdijk,’ explains Francine Houben, creative director of Mecanoo. “The royal family has always cherished the relationship with the surrounding landscape. The plan for Eden Soestdijk responds to this in a beautiful manner.”