Freedom Museum, Groesbeek

Parachute in the landscape

Amid the green hills rises the impressive white dome of the new Freedom Museum in Groesbeek. The museum is shaped like a giant parachute that seems to have landed there, a reference to the thousands of parachutes that filled the sky during the liberation of the Nijmegen area (Rijk van Nijmegen) in September 1944. With its Shaded Dome as a roof, the building fits harmoniously into the landscape, while at the same time being a distinctive eye-catcher.


Shaded Dome

The wish to expand the museum to 3000 square meters in a short period and against reasonable costs and to do that in the shape of a stark landmark required an exceptional type of building. Shaded Dome Technologies, a joint venture between Royal HaskoningDHV, Polyned and architectural studio ZJA, secured the commission.

Innovative building concept

The Shaded Dome is an innovative building concept, in which a network of steel cables, an inflated dome and a cover made out of hi-tech textiles come together to make an extremely flexible constructive volume possible. A free span of 60 meters, like Groesbeek requires, is no problem at all.

The interior lay-out that allocates reception area, restaurant, cinema and commemoration room is completely free and flexible. In terms of costs and sustainability the Shaded Dome is a very efficient structure during both the construction period as well as during its lifecycle.


The Shaded Dome that is constructed in Groesbeek has the shape of an elongated dome of bright textile, in reference to the parachutes that filled the sky during Operation Market Garden. The shape also echoes the dome once designed by Croonen. The building, situated on an elevated plateau, is slightly lifted, tilted and cut away on the side facing the valley. Offices and storage facilities are build underground, so the that the restaurant offers a clear view of the valley from where the allied divisions once left for Germany.

Part of the landscape

Seen from the road, the slightly tilted Dome is planned at the back of the plateau to provide parking and space for outdoor events. Moreover, this also allows space and greenery to be left between the museum and the Canadian cemetery. 

The Dome has a distinct and recognizable shape and is located on a slope, but the memory of the old dome, the flowing shape and the skin, which evokes associations with the parachutes of the liberators, make it fit into this rolling landscape with winding roads and green vistas.

Liberation of the Netherlands

Although the west of the Netherlands had to endure a gruesome winter of famine, the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944 was the first big step towards the liberation of the country in May 1945. Operation Market Garden and the Rhineland Offensive that effectuated this and were part of the last chapter in the victory over Nazi Germany took place in and around Groesbeek, the Netherlands. 

Exhibitions and educational program

Since 1987 Groesbeek has been the location of the Freedom Museum that commemorates this important episode in Dutch history by organizing exhibitions, educationally programs and events.

The previous buildings, originally from the building settlements on the artificial island of Neeltje Jans along the North Sea coast, and the characteristic knobbed dome designed by Antoon Croonen, were in need of replacement, making room for a new building heralding a new episode for the Freedom Museum. The plan was to not only expand the surface area, but to also house a new program. 

A growing flow of Dutch school classes and families find their way to the Museum, but also more and more foreign visitors, often as participants in a group travel plan, originating from the United Kingdom, the United States and also from Germany pay Groesbeek a visit. For that reason the Freedom Museum places its presentation of history in a more international, European context and will be telling the story of the liberation of the Netherlands as an example of a battle for values that are at stake today, as much as they were then: freedom, democracy and human rights.

Shaded Dome Technologies was founded by architectural studio ZJA, Royal HaskoningDHV and Polyned

Architecture MasterPrize 2022

Client: Dutch Liberation Museum, Groesbeek
Landscape architect: Elyps
Inauguration: 2023

Project: #750 

Photos: ZJA and Catch Your Moment



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