Rijksmuseum Revisited: The Dutch National Museum One Year On

Atrium, April 2014. Image © James Taylor-Foster

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.

Rijksmuseum / Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos

© Pedro Pegenaute

Architects: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos
Location: Museumstraat 1, 1071 Amsterdam,
Principals: Antonio Cruz, Antonio Ortiz
Project Architects: Muriel Huisman, Thomas Offermans
Project Team: Tirma Reventós, Oscar García de la Cámara, Marije Ter Steege, Alicia López, Juan Luis Mayén, Clara Hernández, Ana Vila, Victoria Bernícola, Jan Kolle, Sara Gutiérrez, Marta Pelegrín, Iko Mennenga, Joaquin Pérez, Lourdes Gutierrez, Carlos Arévalo
Area: 30000.0 sqm
Year: 2000
Photographs: Pedro Pegenaute, Myra May, Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Jannes Linders, Duccio Malagamba

Sevilla University Education / Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos

Courtesy of

Architects: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos
Location: , Spain
Client: Universidad de Sevilla
Presupuesto: 22,000,000 €
Superficie construida: 25,420 sqm
Construction dates:  2007-2010
Photographs: Fernando Alda, Pedro Pegenaute

   

Sabadell Housing Renovation / Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos

Courtesy of Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos

Architects: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos 
Location: Sabadell, ,
Years: 2005-2007
Photographs: Courtesy of Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos

   

Flashback: Basilea Station / Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos and Giraudi-Wettstein

Courtesy of

Architects: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos  in collaboration with Giraudi-Wettstein
Location: train station, Centralbahnstrasse 10, 4051 , Switzerland
Completion date: 2003
Collaborators: J. C. Mulero, M. Velasco, L. Gutiérrez. Cruz y Ortiz arquitectos M. Delmenico, T. Radczuweit, P. Vitali. Giraudi-Wettstein, Itten + Brechbühl AG., Technical Surveyors, Passera & Pedretti, Structural Consultant, Rinaldo Passera, Erich Borer, Tadeusz Tzsesiac, Suiselectra Ingenierunternehmungn AG, Services Consultant
Built area: Footbridge: 9.000 sqm
Parking: 14.700 sqm
Client: Passarelle Bahnhof Basel SBB
Photographs: Courtesy of Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos

   

Atelier Building / Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos

© Duccio Malagamba

Architects: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos
Location: ,
Client: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Department of Culture, Ministry of Public Works
Project Architect: Thomas Offermans
Design Team: Marta Pelegrin, Joaquín Pérez, Tirma Reventos, Iko Mennenga, Juan Carlos Mulero, Miguel Velasco, Luis Gutiérrez, Mónica del Arenal, Rocío Peinado
Local Architects: HMADP-architecten BV Amsterdam, Holland
Built area: 9,100 sqm
Budget: 20,000,000€
Completion date: 2007
Photography: Duccio Malagamba Fotografía de Arquitectura, Luuk Kramer

Almajayar Offices / Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos

© Duccio Malagamba

Architect: Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos
Location: Calle Joaquín Eguarás s/n, , Spain
Client: Dirección General de Patrimonio. Consejería de Economía y Hacienda. Junta de Andalucía.
Budget: 34.930.267,43 €
Area: 46.893 sqm
Construction date: 2004 – 2010
Photographs: Duccio Malagamba Fotografía de Arquitectura