04 2020
April 2020
29/04 2020

Conversations between art and architecture

Over the years, KAAN Architecten has achieved many fruitful collaborations with artists whose mediums of expression, among others, include painting, sculpture, furniture and lighting design. The central part of these collaborations is creating dialogue between the designed space and the artwork.

The artworks are never regarded just as stationary objects placed in space for the sole purpose of being admired. Their purpose is to enhance or contrast the atmosphere; to integrate with the scale, perspective and light which, in turn, determine the users’ experience of space.

© Karin Borghouts

© Karin Borghouts

Regarded as the heart of the public area, the atrium of renovated office building B30 in The Hague has been allocated for art. An invitation was extended to an artist to create a mosaic or floor pattern that visualises the magic of this space. Artist Rob Birza designed a pattern inspired by images from his travels, but which can be read as a garden abstraction. It has become the internal garden in a series of three gardens that traverse the building. The artwork has been beautifully executed by Van der Zande Terrazo & Mozaiek, in natural and precious stones, in combination with terrazzo concrete. The scale of the imagery is elusive, but at the same time, it manages to attune itself to the perspective of the beholder and the proportions of the space they occupy in that experience.

© Dominique Panhuysen

© Johannes Schwartz

In projects such as the Supreme Court and Crematorium Siesegem large scale paintings enhance the formal and solemn atmosphere of the spaces. ‘Hoge Raad’ by painter Helen Verhoeven was specifically commissioned for the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. The 4×6,5m painting reflects themes of law and justice by depicting a densely populated courtroom in which the walls are covered with (art-) historical references to the development of the Dutch legal system and constitution.

© Sebastian van Damme

Meanwhile, the 6x6m painting by Belgian artist Rinus van de Velde is the focal point of a long zenithally lit corridor of Crematorium Siesegem. In his characteristic haunting strokes of black and white, the painting depicts the symbolic crossing of the river, aproppriate for the programme of the building.

On the other hand, the artwork in projects such as the New Amsterdam Courthouse and the District Water Board Brabantse Delta exude an appropriate form of humour as a counterpart to the formality of the institutional architecture. Although the final design is yet to be revealed, a prominent 5.5m high sculpture by the American artist Nicole Eisenman will be placed on the public square in front of the New Amsterdam Courthouse. The artwork features a larger-than-life figure extending a hand holding an acorn (protection against evil), an owl (wisdom) and an arrow (power). Hopeful and optimistic in its symbolism, the artwork fits into the formal environment and acts as a recognizable landmark for the area. 

The location of the future artwork by Nicole Eisenman

Similarly, the colourful wooden sculptures by Stephan Balkenhol stand out against the classically symmetrical building of the District Water Board in Brabantse Delta. The wood for the 4 statues came from two oak trees that stood on the edge of the estate and were removed to make way for the renovation. The group of sculptures is characteristic of Balkenhol’s work – mundane human figures on a bulky pedestal, painted in simple colours, appearing both living and inanimate at the same time.

© Christian Richters


22/04 2020

Construction on iCampus in Munich breaks ground

Earlier this year, construction started on the three new office buildings for iCampus in Munich’s Werksviertel district, whose facades have been designed by KAAN Architecten. The new development blends existing industrial and office buildings with a new contemporary layer, dedicated to the creative industry. 

Within the past months, groundwork has commenced to accommodate the combined underground parking of the Alpha, Beta and Gamma buildings. The structure and floorplans have been designed by RKW Architektur +, while the facade design by KAAN Architecten will underline and support the identity of the buildings to consolidate and unite the Werksviertel aesthetic, while at the same time being iconic within in its own way

Follow the construction live here or click here to explore our design.

21/04 2020

Uncovering layers of history

Working on existing heritage with care and respect, and treating the historical context in its broadest form, is a central theme in KAAN Architecten’s thinking on architecture.

Over the last 20 years, the office has designed more than 40 projects related to renovation and restoration of built heritage. Whether it is an interior renovation such as De Bank, the office’s new headquarters in Rotterdam, or the addition of a new structure as in Erasmus MC Education Centre, the guiding principles are the same.

© Simone Bossi

Complex interventions on buildings of different periods must always present a clear hierarchy between the old and the new. The contemporary should not override the existing, but nevertheless ensure a comparable dignity, highlighting the monumental and the original. In this way, the new provides knowledge of the past.

© Bart Gosselin

The Education Center is part of the Rotterdam academic hospital Erasmus MC, originally designed in 1965 by Arie Hagoort (OD205) in collaboration with Jean Prouvé. Following the essence of the original design, the second floor has been reintroduced as the main floor and entrance of the complex. Since its completion in 2013, the new building has merged all medical student programmes within the education square with a pattern of study islands spanned by a large, glazed roof structure. The flexibility of the column-free space allows it to admit different functions. As such, the Education Centre has recently been transformed into a Dutch national coordination centre for corona patient distribution.

© Luuk Kramer

Among such projects is also Central Post in Rotterdam which has been was transformed into a contemporary and multifunctional office building. Due to the modernization of the postal process, the building fell into disuse. Through exterior restoration and transformation of the interior, 90% increase in floor area was achieved and the building was granted a Class A Energy Label. It is currently one of the five most sustainable buildings in the Netherlands. Last year it has also been categorized as a national monument by the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency.

© Karin Borghouts

Meanwhile, B30 a closed hierarchical building in The Hague, has been transformed into a contemporary and state-of-the-art working environment through a clear spatial configuration and additive design. Originally designed in 1917 as a ministry building, B30 is now an imposing structure with a distinct architectural character and is a Grade 1 listed building in the Netherlands.

More recently, the office has been commissioned to restore, renovate and extend two highly regarded museums – Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn and Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Both projects aim to improve and expand the visitor experience as well as highlight the grandeur of the existing institutions. With extensive photo reports from the construction sites, KAAN Architecten brings continuous coverage of updates on both projects – find the most recent ones here and here.

© Sebastian van Damme

© Karin Borghouts

17/04 2020

A vertical journey through the museum

Placed in the artwork freight elevator of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the camera charts a route full of surprising experiences within the historical and the new museum.

To get a sense of the scale, consider that the inside of the elevator measures 5,3 by 4 m with 3,6 m height. The mesmerizing still shots take you through a sequence of large and small exhibition halls, hidden rooms, horizontal and vertical sightlines and varying gradations of daylight. These rare observations could only be filmed during construction and before closing the elevator shaft.

Video by Koen van Herk and Marcel Ijzerman for KAAN Architecten
Music score by Vague Imaginaires


14/04 2020

Fashion meets architecture at KMSKA

Women’s Spring-Summer 2020 collection by the Belgian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester has been photographed in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) which is currently undergoing renovation and extension by KAAN Architecten.

Empty rooms of the historical museum made a perfect deconstructed backdrop for the avant-garde designs of the ‘Jolene’ collection, photographed by Charlie de Keersmaecker. Discover the full campaign here.


08/04 2020

Restoration of FAMA cultural centre begins

Last year KAAN Architecten has been commissioned with restoring the current headquarters of Fundação Marcos Amaro (FMA) and the associated cultural centre Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro (FAMA) housed in an old textile factory. Take a look at the first step in the process of restoring a cultural oasis in Brazil from factory grounds into a state-of-the-art cultural centre.

Previously a cotton mill, the complex was built in 1911 with brick masonry construction and refined finishing. As the building represents significant industrial heritage within the city, the central part of the assignment is restoring the intrinsic qualities of the space by reinstating original materials and colours.

The process started with the chromatic restoration of paint on facades where traces of original ochre colour were found on plastered fragments. Through pictorial prospecting and acid testing, it was possible to map the main elements of its composition. On areas with an exposed brick surface, it was necessary to first test the reintegration of mortar and the application of a protective solution.

All application tests were carried out within sampling windows which allow controlled and comparable results, to obtain the best solution for the originally painted facades, as well as to ensure the conservation of exposed brick masonry.

Restoration studies have been developed by Vinicius Martins de Oliveira (historian architect) and Jéssica Aparecida de Paula (architect) for KAAN Architecten

KAAN Architecten team: Raluca Firicel, Juliana Generoso, Renata Gilio, Danielle Gregorio, Carlos Jacquet, Kees Kaan, Ricardo Marmorato, Vincent Panhuysen, Marco Peixe D’Elia, Dikkie Scipio, Lais Xavier