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ARCAM, Amsterdam

Architecture Center, Offices, Exhibition space, Educational space, Amsterdam NL, Project Team: René van Zuuk, Client: Municipality of Amsterdam, Start of design: 1999 - 2002, Completion: 2002 - 2003, Area: 477 m², Volume: 2.860 m³, Building costs: €1.600.000

The Architecture Center Amsterdam (ARCAM) was in need of a considerably larger accommodation for its premises. Therefore, a prestigious location close to the Osteerdok was allocated for the architecture institute. A small Renzo Piano pavilion was built on the site, as a viewing platform for the NEMO Science Center. The assignment was to integrate the old pavilion into the new design as much as possible. Integration of the pavilion was not the only restriction to the project. Due to the peculiar location, the envelope of the building was limited to a trapezoidal volume, spreading over three floors.

Three important aspects were taken into consideration when developing the project. Firstly, the facade facing the Maritime Museum had to be as modest as possible, presenting the possibility to lower the waterfront facade, in relation to the Prins Hendrikkade street facade. Secondly, the street facade needed to have a more reclusive character, and at the same time, the building should open up at the waterfront side. Finally, and perhaps the most challenging part of the commission, the building would have to constitute a compact monolith. Based on these requirements, a shape and form have been created that turns the building into a landmark.

The new pavilion is a compact three-storey building. On the street level, an exhibition space is located, and the upper floor is fitted with glass partitions, creating an attic-like space. On the waterfront, at the quay level, a multipurpose space has been created, for meetings and discussions. The internal communication between the floors is remarkable. The different levels are visually linked by voids, in a way that all the spaces feel like they comprise a much larger entity.

The design of the facades is made possible due to the application of KalZip skin. This folded seam method is ideal for creating singularly curved surfaces. The zinc-coated aluminium strips, form a continuous plane, curling itself around the volume. The facades are distinctive in their appearance. On the street side, the folded skin combines with the beveling glass to create a spectacular entrance. On the waterfront side, the core of the building is exposed by the glass facades, barely showing the structural steelwork, while displaying the layered internal organization.

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