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Venlo Casino: A Floral Roof Made of Wood

At the beginning of July 2021, coinciding with the start of the vacation season, the new casino opened in Venlo. Located directly on the highway and close to the German border, the imaginatively designed new building of the "Holland Casino" is intended to help enhance the tourism value of the region around the Dutch city of Venlo. With ist organic architecture and an interactive façade shimmering in all shades of color, the architects create an expressive reference to the flower country Holland. Only visible at second glance is the free-formed timber structure, for which the Swiss timber construction specialist Blumer Lehmann is responsible.

The design by MVSA Architects plays with the floral motif and places four organically shaped floor levels on top of each other like the leaves of a crown of flowers for the Casino Venlo. The floral character is supported by a colorful façade that shows a different play of colors at every time of day. The facade consists of a grid of round glass panes interspersed with smaller metal elements. These are coated in two colors, so that their colorfulness changes depending on the viewing angle. In the dark, the facade is illuminated by integrated LEDs. The scene control is freely programmable and immerses the colorfully illuminated facade in a spectacular light, visible from afar.

Building of considerable dimensions

The Casino Venlo is a building of considerable dimensions. Over a floor area of 9,500 m², the sloping flower roof reaches an area of 55 x 45 m at its maximum extension. The artistically curved tree structure with its laterally curved and twisted "branches" of around 300 free-form elements has a construction height of 1.20 meters. The roof beams are up to 17 m long.

The feasibility check by the team of experts concerned both the economic implementation of the bending radii and the geometric alignment of the components. A four-layer node system was developed for the timber connections, with four glulam layers in each direction. Finding buildable and assemblable solutions for this system was one of the greater challenges of project development.

"A special feature in this project was certainly also the fasteners. These varied from classic wood-to-wood connections to slotted plates to meter-long screws," recalled Jephtha Schaffner, project manager at Blumer Lehmann for the Venlo Casino.

Fluid organic forms also in the interior of the casino

The interior concept for the casino was developed in collaboration with Las Vegas-based interior design firm Gensler. Flowing organic shapes are set off by a finely tuned lighting concept. The floral motif is also found in the focal point of the atrium. Here, a stylized flower stem branches out into an artfully curved roof structure that is artfully integrated into the interior concept. Around the 3.20-meter-thick, solid wooden column, spruce arches form a seemingly weightless floral sculpture, which is staged with light bands.

Free-form structure made of natural building material

The idea of sustainability was an important aspect of the construction project for both the architects and the city of Venlo, and is reflected in the overall concept of Casino Venlo. It was therefore obvious that the construction should be implemented using wood, a natural, renewable material. The architects brought the free-form specialists from Blumer Lehmann on board as early as the preliminary planning phase to investigate the feasibility of their floral supporting structure design and to check its practicability. Blumer Lehmann supplemented the project team with its proven team partners - structural engineers from SJB Kempter Fitze and digital modeling professionals from Design-to-Production.

All components are unique

The elements for the supporting structure were prefabricated in Switzerland. More than 500 m³ of spruce wood was used for the entire structure; 2,700 beams and 230 curved blanks were milled with a radius of 5 to 20 meters. There were only 24 straight cuts.

"There were actually no two identical components. All components were unique, which made planning correspondingly complex," Schaffner summed up. The 48 timber frame elements for the exterior wall were also prefabricated at Blumer Lehmann's plant. The wall elements, which were round in plan, ranged in height from 2 to 6 m; here, too, there were no two identical elements.

High-quality free-form project

The Casino Venlo is a very high-quality free-form project, even if you don't see it right away. The seemingly lightweight flower crown gives no hint of the complex support structure needed to hold it in place.


Venlo, Limburg, Netherlands (2020)

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