Wim Pijbes, director of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, has declared in an open letter to the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad that the Dutch capital is “dirty, filthy, and too full.” Complaining primarily about the culture of short-stay accommodation, segways, scooters and canal cruisers in the historic heart of the city, he argues that “the charm and spirited character has long since faded.” Amsterdam, an apparent magnet for those who enjoy an “anything-goes atmosphere,” faces an uphill battle in order to remold a dwindling reputation.
Initiatives like Project 1012, which seeks to put a cap on (and even shut down) some of the brothels and marijuana ‘coffee shops’ in the city’s historic core, is part of a wide-reaching clean up campaign. For Feargus O’Sullivan however, “if Amsterdam loses its sense of license, its aura of permissiveness, and its immaculate order held in delicate balance, then it will lose some of its delight, its uniqueness – even its Dutchness.” Read his article in The Atlantic’s Citylab in full here.
The Rijksmuseum, which reopened last year after a decade of restoration and remodelling, is a museum dedicated to “the Dutchness of Dutchness.” Pierre Cuypers, the building’s original architect, began designing this neogothic cathedral to Dutch art in 1876; it opened in 1885 and has stood guard over Amsterdam’s Museumplein ever since.
Over the centuries, the building suffered a series of poorly executed ‘improvements’: intricately frescoed walls and ceilings were whitewashed; precious mosaics broken; decorative surfaces plastered over; and false, parasitic ceilings hung from the walls. Speaking in his office overlooking the Rijksmuseum’s monumental south west façade, Director of Collections Taco Dibbits noted how the most appalling damage was incurred during the mid-20th century: “everything had been done to hide the original building […but] Cruz y Ortiz [who won the competition to redesign the Rijks in 2003] embraced the existing architecture by going back to the original volumes of the spaces as much as possible.”
For Seville-based Cruz y Ortiz, choosing what to retain and what to restore, what to remodel and what to ignore were, at times, difficult to balance. Cruz y Ortiz found their answer in the mantra: ‘Continue with Cuypers’. They threw the original elements of the building into relief but did not act as aesthetes for the ‘ruin’. In contrast to David Chipperfield and Julian Harrap’s restoration of Berlin’s Neues Museum, for instance, Cruz y Ortiz rigorously implemented a clean visual approach that favoured clarity over confusion. What is original, what is restored, and what is new mingle together in a melting pot of solid, understated architectural elements. Sometimes this approach contradicted Cuyper’s original intentions; however, more often than not it complements them in a contemporary way.
“The building industry is one of the most polluting and inefficient industries out there,” Hedwig Heinsman of Dus Architects tells The Guardian‘s Olly Wainwright, “With 3D-printing, there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled. This could revolutionise how we make our cities.”
Working with another Dutch firm, Ultimaker, Dus Architects have developed the KamerMaker (Room Maker), a 3D Printer big enough to print chunks of buildings, up to 2x2x3.5 meters high, out of hotmelt, a bio-plastic mix that’s about 75% plant oil. The chunks can then be stacked and connected together like LEGO bricks, forming multi-story homes whose designs can be adapted according to users’ needs/desires. For Dus’ first project, they’ve taken as inspiration the Dutch canal house, replacing hand-laid bricks with, in Wainwright’s words, “a faceted plastic facade, scripted by computer software.”
So far, only a 3m-high, 180-kg sample corner of the future canal house has been printed; moreover, the blocks will need to be back-filled with lightweight concrete, meaning it’s not yet as biodegradable as its creators would like. However, its game-changing potential is already provoking much interest in the public; over 2,000 people have come to visit the site, including Barack Obama. Learn more at The Guardian and in the video above.
Location: Joan Muyskenweg 39, 1099 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Architect In Charge: Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf, Ellen van Loon
Current Team (Construction + Interiors): Katrien van Dijk (project leader), Tjeerd van de Sandt, Saskia Simon, Marina Cogliani, Jung-Won Yoon
Area: 19000.0 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of OMA – G-Star
Bunker 599, one of 700 secret bunkers that were used to weaponize artificial hydrology in during the 19th century (see: New Dutch Waterline), recently underwent a radical transformation. RAAAF [Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances], in collaboration with Atelier de Lyon, sliced through the seemingly indestructible bunker to link visitors to an existing network of footpaths, create a publicly accessible attraction to those revisiting the NDW, and form a dramatic connection with the flooded plains that were altered more than 200 years ago.
The video above takes you through the process of altering the concrete monolith, ending with film of the stunning result that has been attracting thousands of daily visitors since its completion. To learn more about the project, follow this link.
Location: Zeeburgereiland en Nieuwe Diep, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Design Team: Albert Herder, Vincent van der Klei, Arie van der Neut, Metin van Zijl
Project Team: Daniel Aw, Jarno van Essen, Monika Pieroth, Eliano Felício, Pedro Piernas
Contractor: Verlaat Uden Bouwsystemen
Area: 2400.0 sqm
Photographs: Peter Cuypers
Architects: DP6 architectuurstudio
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Design Team: Chris de Weijer, Robert Alewijnse, Richelle de Jong, Björn Bleumink, Harrie Hupperts, Ines van Binsbergen, Carolina Sumares, Job van Stralen, Rik den Heijer, Rosanne van Yperen
Area: 15,730 sqm
Photographs: Marcel van der Burg
Architects: Claus en Kaan Architecten
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Architect In Charge: Felix Claus, Dick van Wageningen
Design Team: Marc van Broekhuijsen, Jante Leupen, Joost Mulders, Roland Rens, Romy Schneider, Surya Steijlen, James Webb
Area: 3,000 sqm
Photographs: Christian Richters, Luuk Kramer