When I moved to Groningen to start my PhD in early 2012 (oh boy, time flies...), I saw something unusual: one of the buildings on the main square was mercilessly torn down. This was a bit of a shock to me, an Italian used to see buildings stand for centuries, whether restored or "romantically" abandoned to the passing of time.
I later came to know the municipality was planning to replace what had been built right after the second world war up to the 70s with buildings that would be thoughtfully designed and serve the city: a hotel and the Groninger Forum.
The latter meant to become a totem for culture, with the biblioteque, cinema, tourist information and shop, space for temporary exhibitions and company gatherings, the comics museum, a bar, a roof-top restaurant and a beautiful terrace on the 10th floor. How cool!
Long story short, after some troubles related to earthquake-proof foundations, the Forum officially opened on the 29th of November 2019. I had to be there!
With (almost) 24h long events, a huge crowd started queuing to get in. One hour standing in line in the middle of the night paid off once we started to look around: the welcoming screens, the lights on the walls and the bar serving beer and pretzels. Tired but happy!
At almost 3am we had to leave to allow for the VIP (aka paid) party to start. But I was not done visiting, and I have no problems waking up early. After some 4 hours of sleep I was biking again towards the Forum to have breakfast and explore the building with only few people around. Breakfast was on the ground floor, accompanied with live music and free magazines and newspapers available at the kiosk.
With my tummy properly filled, I started exploring the ground floor. Here there is space for the bar, auditorium for open screenings, the tourist info+shop and the two-floors kids biblioteque. Kids were having lots of fun with an Alice in Wonderland-themed breakfast, and I could not help but wandering around with a smile on my face!
It was time to go up. Moving staircases connect all the floors and are an important part of the building because they are not just moving people up/down but allow to see the floors from a different perspective; everything is seamlessly connected.
The moving staircases are also a constant inspiration for photos, but you must have guessed that by now :)
Although books can be found on several floors sharing spaces with bar, cinema and exhibitions, the third floor is dedicated to reading... and much more. You can sit and play chess, or pool, or sip your coffee while admiring the Martini tower. Everything made to make people enjoy beyond the simple lending of reading materials.
The five cinema halls are on the fifth floor, together with a hippy bar, lots of comfy chairs and the whole collection of DVDs of the biblioteque. Going for a movie and lending another one will probably become common practice here.
Of the five halls, one has couches and armchairs instead of seats. They are so comfortable you could stay there forever! A small bar behind ensures you keep hydrated for the whole duration of the movie.
To the upper floors now... The restaurant on the 10th floor is filled with plants and furnished with several armchairs. Beautiful views of the city and an external space for the sunny days. The same space can be also used for open-air cinema and events. The terrace can be easily accessed and the whole city is suddenly at sight. Can't wait to see how the Nieuw Markt will look like once the hotel and residential building will be completed! Of course another visit is planned to come check the works in progress and see the fully functional Forum with exhibitions, the comics museum and much much more! Tot volgende keer!
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