Muziekgebouw / 3XN


Architect: 3XN
Location: Piet Heinkade 1, Amsterdam,
Client: Geemente Amsterdam
Structural engineers: ABT BV, Netherlands
Year of enchargement: 1997
Year of completion: 2005
Constructed area: 15,000 sqm
Photographs: Andrea Giannotti

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The new Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam is the location for two music institutions in Amsterdam: the Ijsbreker for modern music and the BIMhuis for jazz and improvised music. Danish Architects won the competition in 1997.

The structure of the building consists in a concrete volume, surrounded by a glass façade and covered by a roof slab, oriented towards the harbour and the station; on the right side a solid box is ejected over the side channel, supported by a bridge structure, and facing the center of Amsterdam. These objects, the glass volume, the hanged box and the covering roof, explain already from the exterior the hierarchy and the relation between space and functions. The project is then an ensemble of different objects under a common roof, coming from the idea of gathering more functions to let the complex attract a wide range of customers and visitors all day long.


The fortunate location of the building has been enhanced by transparency. The main access is by a pedestrian bridge which leads to the upper foyer, and through the façade transparency it is evident how the foyer develops further down towards the terrace on the last part of the pier, offering spectacular views to and from the Amsterdam harbour. When going down the large stairs to the cafeteria and the terrace, natural light enters through the massive elements and drives to the deck on the harbour; and though the space looks empty and over-sized, it is not oppressive but rather well related to the importance of a classic auditorium’s foyer.


Simplicity and elegance of details, natural light from the roof and from the facades, and roughness of materials give a warm atmosphere to the space. The untreated wood flooring and the concrete walls play together with the glazed façade to warm the large foyer both in feelings and in acoustics.

The main hall, a high block of white concrete panels, seats 800 persons. Its peculiarity is the internal wall’s cladding, made out of panels with a colour-changing light system. The three levels of the balconies are then reproduced outside the concrete block by hanged slabs on the foyer.


In the BIMhuis hall, accessible by the upper foyer through a stairs passage (the hall seats 300 people), the space is more familiarly sized, with a smaller cafe-foyer continuing into the camera music hall. Drawing the curtains behind the stage, during the concerts, it is a wonder to discover the view towards Amsterdam through the enormous glazed window. After three years of use, Amsterdam people enjoy the Muziekgebouw as a well-known music center and a charming place to spend time, as was in the intention of the Municipality and of the architects. It is a not-so-frequent case of successful city planning.

Cite: "Muziekgebouw / 3XN" 29 Oct 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • ygogolak

    Looks like they tried really hard to do something creative. Missed the mark for me though.

  • HW

    Pretty clean and slick, but you could have fed alot of starving kids with that cantilevered roof. Would it even screen the plaza from wind-driven rain at that height? On the other hand, it is a nice public gesture/backdrop, especially at night with the underlighting.

  • Jinx

    I passed this building every day when it was under construction, been a while since I’ve last seen it.
    It’s construction always keeps impressing me, No arches or extraordinary bending but it does have a very strong powerful presence that is seen in the whole building.

    I also think it is designed to be seen from a distance and as a whole (no picture!!). The road and rail track are a fair distance form the building and you only get close up when visiting the building (nothing else behind it or on the left).
    But perhaps the street layout changed.

  • jonathan

    seems to reference the Diller Socofidio Institute of Contemporary art in Boston, esp. with that stair on the right.

    • rossi

      Only, this is completed in 2005, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston in 2006.

  • EF

    It references (pretty closely) a waterfront performing arts center by Jean Nouvel…

  • Matthew

    It’s very much like the music hall on the Luzern waterfront in Switzerland, for example.

  • rossi

    Ok, enough comparisons now? It obviously looks like a ton of non-symbol buildings by a waterfront… So? I’m sure it’s not intentional.

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  • Seven Seven

    In such a music hall listening to beautiful music is how of enjoyment .

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