Margraten: true craftmanship


At Margraten at the Netherlands American Cemetery, we build a new visitor center for the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) by the design of KAAN Architecten.

It’s both stylish and humble design requires a new approach when it comes to the use of concrete. The visitor center is made out of four 300mm thick in-situ reinforced layered concrete walls without showing any gaps or anchor tie holes. Since this is not the classic use of concrete, a lot of research had to be done. The expertise of all technical partners was key in order to come to the perfect recipe for this project. 

14 test walls were produced, giving the project team the opportunity to discuss the structure, feel the texture and see the color within the surrounding landscape. 

For the required color, Keulen beton and the beton technologist of Arenatum made a lot of samples. No pigment what so ever was used so it all boiled down to the exact proportion of the natural composition. 

Concrete is a natural product and its behavior depends on several parameters. Each day, you need to experience how it reacts and responds to the giving situation accordingly.

Fortunately, the project team of Van Roey and its partners knew how to handle. 

No concrete without the appropriate formwork. In close consultation with the project team, PERI chose for a stacked formwork.  The whole project was printed as a scale model with a 3D printer to find the best solution for all the custom formwork that was needed.

Finally, the project team decided to build the visitor center outside in: the formwork was built at final height for the walls, for the core of the building the formwork was foreseen every 1,5 meter at a time.


Concrete walls without showing any gaps or anchor tie holes require the use of a specific, innovative system. By using the solid plastic panels of alkus AG (and weld them together for larger surfaces), no tracks were shown of scratches, gaps or even screws in the concrete surface.

The humble design of the visitor center is emphasized by the gesture of sinking the building into the landscape. Seen from a distance, the thick fascia (which appears to float above the ground) withholds a sense of scale. It makes the building appear as a subtle sculpture that is surrounded by scattered trees.

The fascia aims high when it comes to innovative techniques. Declerck & Partners, the engineering company stability, used the SCIA model (see below) to get a clear sight on the forces and tensions on the fascia. This determinative element of the design was built on ground level and it will be hanged on the overhang of the building. 

It is not the weight of the fascia (300 ton) that makes it a challenge, it is hanging it on the overhang by jacking. The insights from the SCIA model helped CT De Boer (civil techniques) to choose the right anchor method. 


And therefore the new visitor center at Margraten is truly an inspiring example of craftmanship! Check out the video on You Tube with testimonials of Kyoko De Fraeye, Nicki van Loon and Karen Wurzburger.