Cathedral-inspired supermarket in the Netherlands brings a flashy twist to retail shopping

Think ‘Apple Store’, but with real apples!

If you drive past the city of Meerstad in Groningen, you’ll at least slow your car down if you don’t stop by to visit the local SuperHub. The reason this supermarket looks so appealing is that it draws its design inspiration from surreal cathedrals with high ceilings and graceful columns with pointed gothic arches between them. Designed by De Zwarte Hond, the SuperHub almost feels like a majestic monument (perhaps in the name of consumerism!) as opposed to a grocery store and cafe. That’s because, the Dutch architecture firm says, to elevate the shopping experience from the convenience of just ordering groceries to your home via the internet to something that feels nicer and more appealing.

Designer: De Zwarte Hond

The first thing that catches the eye is the 9-metre (29.5 feet) high ceiling, the wrap-around glass panels, and the warm, earthy appeal of the wooden pillars and ceiling. Ceilings protrude 5 meters beyond the walls, providing shade and shelter from harsh sunlight for people in and around the supermarket during the summer months. Meanwhile, incredibly large floor-to-ceiling glass panels allow the SuperHub to receive more natural light throughout the day, reducing the amount of energy needed. At night, the monument comes to life with lights shining like a jewel in the middle of the small town of Meerstad.

The building was commissioned by property developer MWPO as part of plans to increase the population in Meerstad, an up-and-coming town in the Dutch province of Groningen. The town is popular for its open space, greenery and recreational lake Woldmeer, which is expected to build around 5,000-6,000 homes by 2035.

SuperHub is designed to be future-proofed for reality itself. Eventually, with a larger population, the SuperHub could evolve into a community center rather than just a grocery store and cafe. The spacious and well-lit structure could be converted into a museum, library or series of residences in perhaps 20 years or so. The roof of the building is reserved for solar panels to enable the SuperHub to run entirely on renewable energy, as well as plants that create a thriving ecosystem for bees and other insects.

A scaled down model of the SuperHub build

Photos of Ronald Tilleman

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