25/10 2017

A book series about New Amsterdam Courthouse

The demolition works and construction of the New Amsterdam Courthouse started in January 2017. Photographer Dominique Panhuysen is reporting from the site to realise a dedicated book series.

From behind the construction fences and up in the tower cranes, she captures the work of demolishers and builders on the building site from a very personal perspective. Every building phase will result in a photo section. When the New Amsterdam Courthouse opens its doors, the series will be complete.

Browse here the first issue!

12/07 2016

KAAN releases the book “Nieuw leven voor Huis van Brabant”

The Provinciehuis of North-Brabant was originally designed in 1971 by Dutch architect Hugh Maaskant. The challenge of the renovation project by KAAN Architecten, completed in 2015, stands in the right reading of the original spatial quality and in updating the building to contemporary needs.

KAAN Architecten’s intervention achieves an extensive openness of the three levels of the horizontal plinth; in the office tower rooms are replaced by a flexible working space and clustered in three floors each.

596 provinciehuis book pictures-2

The dualism of then and now, the contemporary renewal by KAAN Architecten in the Maaskant spirit, have been captured in both photographs by Sebastian van Damme, and words by Ruud Brouwers. Sebastian van Damme is permanently searching for the essence of the built environment. Ruud Brouwers is an architecture critic and a consultant on urban development and architecture policy.

Their complementary works are now combined in the book, published by KAAN Architecten.

09/06 2016

Dikkie Scipio’s essay to present the book “BEELDEN”

The new book "BEELDEN. Stadsverfraaiing in Rotterdam sinds 1940", written by Siebe Thissen (head of Beeldende Kunst & Openbare Ruimte) is about the reconstruction in Rotterdam and the role that art played in it.

On the occasion of the book launch, Dikkie Scipio has signed an essay about the relation between sculptures and public spaces in the city of Rotterdam.

You can read the full essay “Sculptures in Public Spaces” in the Academic section of the website.

“While public space used to be defined as space that wasn’t privately owned and was delineated by building facades and entrances, and where on occasion the space might have been entrusted to artists when conceded by the generosity of a builder/owner, today the line between public and private is slowly blurring. A new generation has emerged that no longer aims for possession, not on account of political ideals but because they do not see the point of ownership.”

Schermata 2016-06-09 alle 15.14.00

Schermata 2016-06-09 alle 15.14.26

22/04 2016

Book: De Hoge Raad der Nederlanden

Photographer Dominique Panhuysen has recently released the book "De Hoge Raad der Nederlanden - under construction", a collection of photographs taken during 25 construction months of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands.

In early 2014, KAAN Architecten asked Dominique Panhuysen to follow the construction of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in The Hague, confident that her peculiar view would have offered an insightful documentation of the building process. Focusing her attention on people, traces of life and gesture, this voluminous compound is able to depict, at the same time, the beauty and the roughness of this high court complex.

DSC_3618 copy2

Dominique Panhuysen is a photographer and visual artist. She has a keen eye for the extraordinary of the ordinary. A prominent feature of her oeuvre is to capture and document everyday situations. The materials and subjects generally appearing in her work are found casually, during daily explorations. Her photography projects often consider series, spanning over several years.

To browse the book, follow this link.

The book is available as a paperback 38x30cm/320 pages, with ISBN 978-90-324843-1-1, published by KAAN Architecten.

For more info please contact dominique.panhuysen@online.nl.


01/05 2015

“Na de afbraak, de opbouw” interview with Dikkie Scipio – ZAAL Z number 12

On December 1st 2014 has started phase 2 of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts renovation. Three years of demolition are followed by three and a half years of building process.

The museum official magazine Zaal Z has interviewed KAAN Architecten partner, Dikkie Scipio together with Jan Severyns and Nathalie Vandebrouck, team and project leaders of the Government of Flanders Facility Management department.

Dikkie Scipio says: “We want to preserve the 19th century museum, so to experience it as it was. The new museum is organized in a very different way and it should lead to a different perception of space”.

You can find the full article from page 18 of the PDF.


09/10 2014

Domus 983 features PLANTA and Kees Kaan essay “Time puts everything in place”

The September 2014 issue of the Italian magazine dedicates four pages to KAAN Architecten's project and exhibition of PLANTA at the Venice Biennale. Down here the full text.

Times puts everything in place – Kees Kaan

The field covered by architecture seems to be without boundaries. Architecture is present everywhere, and as a result the subject of public debate. The profession has a long tradition. Depending on the stance taken by the observer, either this tradition or the latest fashion in building dominates. Most commissions emerge from the societal desire to build, but within a framework of economical and political culture.

It is very tempting to label oneself as an architect with a specific trademark or speciality. The use of an extreme style makes you more easily recognisable as an expert or an extravagant designer. Personal branding has become the standard. Architects like to see themselves as boosters of innovation. This is the most inappropriate and undeserved self-image of our profession. By its very nature, architecture is a slow profession, so trendsetting or being ahead of social changes is a contradiction in terms.

Time is a constant and puts everything in its place. Jerzy Kosinski describes this beautifully in his novel Being There. The story is about Chance, a gardener, who spends his entire life in a walled garden, isolated from the surrounding world. Behind this barrier, time passes without any reference but the seasons.

“What was nice about the garden, was that at any moment, Chance could start to wander, never knowing whether he was ahead of or behind his previous steps. All that mattered was moving in his own time, like the growing plants”.

There is an unbreakable bond between the material from which a building is made and the zeitgeist enclosed within it. But in time the object can liberate itself from the idea from which it emanated. The idea was just the cause, a means to the end of having a building. When the circumstances in which the building emerged change, the spaces and bricks remain and may harbour new activities. I consider an essential aspect of architecture to be its generosity in cutting itself free from its lead position. At the end of the day, a building is nothing but a tool facilitating human activity. The quality of a building is measured by its conveniences, durability, ergonomics and functionality. Contrary to what happens in society, the physical reality and thus the fundamental requirements of human life hardly change.

Form is not the aim of Chance’s garden, but the result of a series of actions performed with care and attention. Quality and universal wisdom are the implicit consequences in this metaphor. This goes for the creation of buildings too. We produce good buildings through dedication and concentration.

When the physiognomy of a building is right, its appearance will correspond in character, function and essence. Beauty in the conventional sense is irrelevant. A building that is correct in its physiognomy might very well be unattractive but its appearance and character correspond. In order to achieve this we follow a conceptual and programmatic path. Our architectural designs are rid of all elements that do not contribute to the conceptual essence of the project. What remains is the most direct, intense representation of the fundamental idea behind the project.

29/09 2014

“Invisible” Dikkie Scipio – ZAAL Z number 10

They built solid and well-planned structures in the 19th century, which means the building can take quite a bit. Its Neo-Classical architecture is proud and majestic, qualities that for many years were not much appreciated. However, its central position in the Zuid district allows it to come into its own. That’s why we have chosen to limit the museum’s expansion to within the contours of its roofline.

The large new gallery will not be visible from the streets and square adjacent to the museum. The gallery space will only be seen, amidst the old roofs, from a more distanced perspective in the diagonal streets that delineate the 19th-century star-shaped urban plan, in which the museum is the central point.

From inside as well, the new gallery will not be immediately visible because the focus is primarily on re-establishing the routing of the original layout.

The new museum is anchored in the building’s four patios and has a large upper gallery above that. Perhaps it’s easiest to visualize as a big table, with four legs standing in the patios and with a hole in the middle of the tabletop that penetrates the roof of the central Rubens and Van Dyck galleries. Of course, you are likely wondering how this looks from the inside and how you can travel from one table leg to the other. The new space cannot be seen from the old museum space at any point. Yet you can go from one leg to the other. This will be made possible by doubling the wall, over the whole height, between the Rubens & Van Dyck galleries and the two small anterooms. Because the rooms of the new museum are at a different level to the old rooms, one can walk – unseen – between the two walls, above the entrance to the Rubens and Van Dyck galleries to the other side of the new museum.

In this renovation there are no changes planned to the largest room, the Rubens gallery, but the Van Dyck gallery will change since it is being shortened by 2.9 meters. This involves contracting the space by precisely one bay and merging the new wall with the existing space without disrupting its pattern. Designed by architects Winders and Van Dijk and considered significant, the proportions of light admitted into the interior at a height of 14.7 meters over 12-meter widths are being maintained.

The recesses that make the hidden passageways possible have now been made. Parts of the cornice have been carefully dismounted and are being saved to re-use in the reconstruction. In this way, the new museum infringes as little as possible upon the character of the old museum. The new museum remains invisible to the old.

19/06 2014

“Not ideal” Dikkie Scipio – ZAAL Z number 9

Nearly all old buildings have some amount of asbestos. In the last century it was an extremely popular building material because it was cheap, easy to work, strong and served as insulation. Asbestos is fire resistant and for this reason it has been used since antiquity. Roman Vestal Virgins for example incorporated asbestos into the wicks of their eternal flames.

Asbestos is a collective term for several naturally occurring minerals that are comprised of very fine, microscopic fibres. There are two kinds of raw asbestos: one with a spiral fibre structure (white asbestos) and the other with a straight fibre that can be blue, brown, grey or green. Actually, these colours can only be seen in the raw state. Once the asbestos has been worked, the type used can only be detected through lab research. It was thought that the biochemical composition of asbestos is what causes cancer, but now it is believed that its cancer-inducing properties lie in the length to diameter ratio of inhaled fibres. As long as the fibres stay bound, they are not dangerous.

Asbestos has an infinite number of applications, from protective clothing to building materials such as roof coverings, sewage pipes and chimneys. In times of need, even holes in cooking pans were repaired with asbestos plates and who hasn´t felt the cold of those vinyl floors laid over asbestos tiles that were very popular well into the 1980s. When office and public buildings were fitted with climate control installations, spray-applied asbestos was invented to provide an easy solution to coat pipes and wires with a fire-resistant and insulating layer. However, sprayed coatings of asbestos damage easily causing a greater dispersion of fibres. Asbestos in this form is what first led to the discovery that it is a cancer hazard. The use of spray-on asbestos has been prohibited in the Netherlands since 1978 and all other asbestos products were prohibited in 1993. A 2001 royal decree in Belgium ensured a ban on manufacturing, using and offering for sale products that contained asbestos.

Nearly all old buildings have some amount of asbestos. So, too, the museum. Much asbestos has been found around the pipes of the out-dated climate control installations. It has been removed in containment. For security’s sake we did some extra investigating. What we found was not ideal. Around the roofs and shafts more asbestos was uncovered. We cannot proceed before this is removed as well.

You can download the PDF version via the link down here and you’ll find Dikkie Scipio’s article from page 27.