Text description provided by the architects. 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 3XN 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.