Architects: emma Architecten
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: John Lewis Marshall, John van Helvert, Courtesy of emma Architecten
From the architect. Fort Diemerdam is part of the “Stelling of Amsterdam’. This historical defence line was recently put on the UNESCO world heritage list. This ignited a re-development plan for Fort Diemerdam to make it accessible to visitors, tourists and those interested. The existing bunkers and fortress guardian house have been restored. The original plan of slopes and strongholds is restored and a nature conservation program has started. Emma architects has designed a new pavilion in which and from which Puur Produkties revives the fortress again with events, tours and catering.
Paviljoen Puur can be exclusively reserved for corporate and private events such as product presentations, meetings, corporate events and weddings.On Sunday and in the summer Paviljoen Puur is a place where everyone feels at home: young and old can enjoy indoor and outdoor atmospheric seasonal meals, tastings and a cultural program with theater and music.
Paviljoen Puur is located on the exact site of a former soldiers shelter. The footprint of this shelter was taken as the basis for the pavilion. Around its base a wooden wall curves up to protect the site and encompass the program. The design is inspired by the undulating forms of the slopes and the surrounding landscape. Openings in the sloping wall give views of the gun bays, a terrace and the direction of the island Pampus, the next fortress of defence line.
The coastal battery Fortress Diemerdam is part of the Stelling of Amsterdam, a former defence line around the capital, which was constructed between 1880 and 1914. The defence line consists of 46 forts and batteries, dikes and sluices at about 15 kilometres from Amsterdam, that by means of inundation would protect the lands of Amsterdam. Since 1996, the Stelling of Amsterdam, already a state listed monument, features on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Fort Diemerdam is particular within the Defence Line of Amsterdam, because it is one of only two coastal batteries.
Stadsherstel Amsterdam NV became the owner of Fort Diemerdam in 2006. They wanted to establish a Cultural Location in the fort. In such a Location visitors get information about the fort, about the Defence Line of Amsterdam. Also, the grounds and buildings would be highly suitable for events such as open air theater, lectures and music. To this end, a plan was developed to restore existing buildings, earthworks and the surrounding nature and rebuild a former guard house. This plan was rejected by the advisory board, there would be no historicist building rebuilt, something new was needed for the fort to look again towards the future, instead of back into the past. Emma architects from Amsterdam took on this commission.
Now, how to create something new in a place where it is fixed that the old is protected? Emma started looking for ways to simultaneously imagine the future and the past. To convey both an air of positive futurism, as well as a strong sense of the past. They found leads in the history of the fort and in the special landscape that surrounds her.
In and around the fort site the ‘kringenwet’ (law of circles) applied. This required that all buildings within the firing range of the guns must be constructed out of wood. When the enemy would approach, all buildings were shot so they could no longer hide. A plinth of just 60 centimetres was allowed to be built from stone, All wooden houses would not last long in this wetland area. Emma brought the footprint of a former soldiers shelter, which emerged in an archaeological research, into the design. At the exact spot, the historical plan is pushed 60 cm into the ground, instead of above it. Visitors will sit slightly lowered, sheltered in the fortress grounds. A wooden wall curves up around this base plan to protect the site and encompass the required spatial program.
The wooden wall is draped along the features of the surrounding landscape. The Dutch engineers work of embankments, bastions and ramparts is characterized by the military precision of elevations, slopes and curves which could strategically hide troops and artillery from view. The wooden facade leans forward and backward, bends around the program and nestles the building deep in the stronghold. It plays with the landscape. The openings in the wall and the terrace on the first floor offer visitors a focused view of the earthworks, the bunkers, the sky and let your gaze to the horizon. The differentiation of heights and openings creates a dynamic play looking and being looked at, of gradual and continuous disclosure.
Underneath the pavilion a large basement is built inside the major earthwork. This allowed the rear entrance to be realized outside the pavilion, towards the road. Thus the pavilion addresses the landscape on all sides. The technical installations are also integrated in the earthwork. The pavilion has been equipped with air heat pumps and the sewage discharges on a helofyte filter. The wooden facade is lined with 40,000 WRC natural shingles. Due to the variable differences in orientation, the facade will naturally change colour as differently. Depending its inclination towards the sky or the earth, orientation on south or north, on prevailing wind direction or close to the trees; in time, the surrounding nature and the elements will define the appearance of the building.