Boulder-like hotel to rise over artificial sand dune casino

Netherlands-based firm ZJA drew on a lost coastal dune landscape for inspiration with its mixed-use hotel and casino in Middelkerke, Belgium. The project will overlook the North Sea and is envisioned as an artificial sand dune, with a “boulder-like” hotel on top.

The project, named Casino Middelkerke, will consist of the casino itself, as well as a restaurant and events hall situated inside the main dune-like building. On top of this will be the hotel and will feature a wooden latticed facade. The overall design is meant to recreate the local area’s original landscape.

“Inspiration for the design was found in the story of the town’s origin,” explains ZJA. “Middelkerke originated on the island of Testerep and was able to grow into an abundant fishing village through the natural protection of a dune and a direct connection to the North Sea via a natural canal. The dunes and water channels of Middelkerke disappeared as a result of urbanization over the last century.

“The construction of the casino building in Middelkerke will function as a tool to renew this historic coastal landscape and give it a contemporary meaning. The building program nestles itself naturally in the landscape. For example, a brand-new event hall, restaurant and casino will be situated behind completely transparent facades under the dune, offering spectacular views of the beach and the sea. The volume of the hotel has a strong visual presence and yet a modest footprint, and stands like a boulder amidst this elevated landscape”

Casino Middelkerke's hotel will feature outdoor terrace areas that are enclosed by a wooden latticed structure
Casino Middelkerke’s hotel will feature outdoor terrace areas that are enclosed by a wooden latticed structure


There’s no word yet on when construction is expected to begin, but the project will make use of recycled materials, as well as sustainably-sourced wood. According to ZJA, the cantilevered form of the dune building will help shade the interior and reduce active cooling requirements. Its interior will be focused on maximizing daylight and ventilation, and there will be green roof areas.

Visitors will be able to walk on top of the roof of the casino to enjoy views of the North Sea and a new car-free public space will also be created. Additionally, the project will bolster the local sea wall defenses.

Though the design is led by ZJA, the firm is part of a larger consortium named Nautilus, which also includes Ciril, Delva, Oz, Bureau Bouwtechniek and Furnibo and Democo. COBE, VK Engineering, Beersnielsen, Witteveen+Bos, Plantec, MINT and Sertius are involved in the project, too.

Source: ZJA

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