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Conceived as an extension to the existing Rijkshoge school, the Maastricht Academy of Art & Architecture provides new spaces for the school of visual arts and architectural design. The building is an incision into the body of the city, an entirely new and foreign organism invading its urban context, a process akin to the operation of a virus. Yet it is set in a discreet, almost camouflaged relation to the city, providing an enclosed public space that achieves an intimate and secluded condition from the main areas of urban activity.
The project includes the renewal of the existing Academy for the Arts, together with the extension of two buildings. Adjacent to the old building is the new structure that contains the auditorium, the library, an exhibition room, a bar and a roof garden. The connecting footbridge, with its translucent glass block floor and ceiling, leads one through the treetops and into the building that accommodates wood and steel workshops.
To follow Kenneth Frampton’s interpretation, this element recalls the design of the Dessau Bauhaus, spanning the two volumes of the workshop and the four-story public core.
To encourage a continuous dialogue, the design dwelled on creating an environment that would be conducive to social interaction among the building’s users. This is achieved by the circulation system, which dominates the plan. There is only one entrance to the entire complex, and only one ramp leading into the newly constructed auditorium, library and bar. The aerial bridge through the treetops is also the only link to the other portion of the extension. The adjoining patio is designed as a sculpture garden. Both students and professors are made to walk along the same route through the different faculties: Architecture, Fashion, Painting and Sculpture. The entire complex becomes an environment for continuous communication, between students and professors.