We are thrilled to celebrate the second anniversary of our acclaimed short film series, MINUTES. These films have allowed us to delve deeper into the connection between architecture and film, and to showcase our projects in a unique and exciting way. To mark this special occasion, we are sharing the twelfth film in the series – ‘On an Immortal Being’.
Shot in the stunning Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, this film is part of a larger body of work that explores the narrative possibilities of architecture and film through a captivating vampire tale.
Directed by Jaime Levinas and created in collaboration with a talented team of artists, including Tina Makharadze, Ruben Hamelink, Nadia de Vries, and Noah Chevan, this film is a testament to the power of creative collaboration and experimentation. Watch the film on our MINUTES platform
MINUTES has received critical acclaim for its unique approach to exploring the intersection of architecture and film. Since its launch two years ago, the series has gained a significant following and has been featured in various film festivals and architecture events worldwide. Each short film in the series has been carefully crafted to showcase the beauty and complexity of the built environment in a new and captivating way.
From the film by Romain Loiseau & Tristan Soreau – To Become one
“Film and architecture have an almost uncanny bond with each other”, claims Brendan Cormier, senior curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, noting that “it is somewhat surprising that until now, films that focus exclusively on the representation of architecture remain a relatively niche pursuit.”
From the film by From Form – Await
In his essay ‘Why are there so few films about architecture?’ Cormier marks MINUTES as a milestone on a joint historical timeline of architecture and cinema. He writes: “By commissioning these films, KAAN Architecten is doing a wonderful service for architecture culture in general. It gives space for new experiments with the portrayal of architecture on film while showing valuable ways to enrich our documentation of architecture for future generations to experience.”
As the MINUTES series continues to grow and evolve, we look forward to seeing what new stories and perspectives it will bring to the world of architecture and film.
Featuring: Tina Makharadze Written and directed by: Jaime Levinas Director of Photography: Ruben Hamelink Line Producer: Sara Halbertsma Creative Producer: Inge de Leeuw Editing: Andrew Aaronson Original music and Sound design: Noah Chevan Words by: Nadia de Vries Production Designer: Rosie Stapel Setdresser: Lorien Mouyal Propsrunner Anne van Soest Props assistants: Freya Filarski, Anjelica Belgrave Special props: Jos Crezee With thanks to: Opera Ballet Flanders, Jacobs Interieur NV te Bree, ’s Zomers Bloemen Rotterdam, Antiquariaat Looijestein, Diana van de Vossenberg
Jaime Levinas is an Argentinean filmmaker based in Rotterdam. He graduated from Brooklyn College as a Fulbright grantee and Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds fellow. His short films Midnight Coffee (2020) and PINPIN(2021) have been selected for festivals such as Clermont-Ferrand, BAFICI, IFFR, Maryland and others.
We are excited to announce the release of our latest publication, “The Courthouse – Architecture for the Public Good.” Published by nai010 publishers, this book is the first and most comprehensive guide to the largest courthouse in the Netherlands.
Largely written and compiled by the building’s design team, this book offers a guided tour through original essays and articles, taking readers behind the scenes to explore the Courthouse as the ultimate gesamtkunstwerk – both a project and a process. Get your copy here.
The book includes in-depth analyses, rich illustrations, construction photographs, and technical drawings to visually document the building’s design.
In addition, the book features dialogues with client representatives, Courthouse spokespersons, and Amsterdam’s urban planners, untangling and explaining the demands of a public building, architectural conceptualisation, and public-private partnerships.
Overall, “The Courthouse – Architecture for the Public Good” calls for more open, collaborative designs built to last in the communities they serve.
The book is available for purchase onlineand in specialised bookstores.
Book photographs by Magdalena Wierzbicka.
Concept: Marco Lanna, Vincent Panhuysen
Texts: Ruud Brouwers, Marten Dashorst, Hans den Hartog Jager, Kees Kaan, Marco Lanna, Vincent Panhuysen
Interviews: Louise Attema, Fokke Van Dijk, Hans Janssen, Ton Schaap, Erik Tuijp
Paleis Het Loo is set to open its doors to visitors on April 22, 2023, following a grand opening ceremony in the presence of His Majesty the King the evening before.
In the past five years, Paleis Het Loo has undergone a significant renovation, including a newly designed extension spanning over 5000 square meters located below the Bassecour. The design was inspired by the layout and proportions baroque palace and its historic surroundings. It incorporates all the necessary facilities and spaces while expressing a grandeur that befits one of the Netherlands’ most popular and visited museums. Revisit our design here.
Last Friday we celebrated ‘drapeau’ for our JUMP project in Aubervilliers, Paris! This traditional French party is held to mark the completion of the building’s structure and envelope.
For those who may not know, the ‘drapeau’ is named after the flag that was traditionally placed on top of houses when construction work was completed. The celebration was organised by the contractor Eiffage and provided a wonderful opportunity to bring together all parties involved in the project and recognize the hard work and dedication of the builders, known as ‘compagnons’. We are thrilled with the progress made on JUMP and can’t wait to see the final result. Stay tuned for more updates!
We are pleased to share that KAAN Architecten is among 5 international architecture firms selected to participate in the competition for the renovation and extension of the Santa Clara convent in the Spanish town of Pontevedra, together with our local collaborators Murado + Elvira Architects.
The goal of the new intervention is to turn the Santa Clara convent into the new headquarters for the Pontevedra Museum. At last week’s press conference, the president of the local Provincial Council stated that the renovation and extension of the convent will be one of the most ambitious cultural works in Spain and will position the Museum as a cultural and architectural reference in the world.
On February 7, 2023, Dikkie Scipio will give a lecture at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. Hers will be the closing lecture in a series dealing with the topic of ‘aging in architecture’, organized by the student initiative HORIZONTE.
Drawing from the renovation and extension of KMSKA in Antwerp, Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn and many others, Scipio’s lecture will focus on how architecture deals with the passing of time and how the process of aging develops new ways of working and coexisting within architectural practice.
Join on Tuesday, February 7, 19.00 in the AUDIMAX auditorium (Steubenstraße 6, 99423 Weimar). The lecture will also be recorded and streamed online at a later date. Watch this space for more information!
Following the recent opening of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, we are proud to present ‘Bridging Time’ published by nai010 publishers. Scroll down to get your copy!
‘Bridging Time’ chronicles the making of one of Europe’s most exciting museums in recent history. The latest renovation work and new design combine a contemporary allure with the glorious but somewhat neglected beauty of the 19th-century landmark. The renovation and extension bring together the past, the present and the future in a layered ensemble of time, architecture, history and art.
Contributions by Inge Bertels and Frederik Vandyck, Melanie Bühler, Louis De Mey, and Dikkie Scipio unveil this palimpsest of influences that shaped the museum and its setting and eventually guided our architectural intervention.
The texts are richly illustrated with original drawings, archive material, unique images, and testimonies of designers, builders and craftsmen involved in the project over the past two decades.
Following the last week’s launch with the book contributors at a festive night at the museum, ‘Bridging Time’ is now available for purchase online and in specialised bookstores.
Texts: Inge Bertels, Melanie Bühler, Louis De Mey, Dikkie Scipio, Frederik Vandyck
Publisher: nai010 publishers, Rotterdam
Design: Alice Colombo
Cover photo: Sebastian van Damme
Photography: Stijn Bollaert, Karin Borghouts, Sebastian van Damme, Toon Grobet
Copy editing: John Kirkpatrick
Translations: John Kirkpatrick, Billy Nolan
Printing and lithography: Die Keure, Brugge
Paper: Magno Gloss 150 gr, Sirio Color Cherry 140 gr (interior), Wibalin Natural 565 Blueberry (cover material)
1st edition, 2022
22 x 31 cm
After winning the public vote earlier in October, our short film platform MINUTES has also won the Dezeen Award for the website of the year from the international panel of judges.
The website was designed by Samuel Gadea, Florian Casarin and Julien Bidoret to host the 12 short films directed by talented international filmmakers portraying projects designed by KAAN Architecten. The site’s graphic language draws from black-and-white contrasts, informed by the core visual identity of MINUTES originally designed by From Form.
“This website manages to be design-led without intruding on user experience. It does not sacrifice functionality for style, and showcases each project in a way that is clear, concise and comprehensive, while still being visually arresting and engaging,” said the judges. “It allows the user to dive further into each film, inviting them to explore the process and design thinking behind the projects,” they continued.” What first could appear to be simply a landing page evolves into a complete content experience.” Read more here!
Rooted in the essential belief that every building tells a story, MINUTES was first floated as a concept in 2017, when we started exploring the dialogue between architecture and cinema. Four years later, MINUTES evolved into a fully-fledged cinematic oeuvre consisting of 12 short films, each less than ten minutes long. Within the framework of this unique exploratory initiative, commissioned filmmakers were given creative freedom to realise their vision of our projects. Using narrative, reference and symbolism, each film takes a different approach to portray how architecture interacts with the world.
We are proud to announce KAAN Architecten has been selected to design the new Courthouse in Nancy, following a competition launched by the APIJ, the leading real estate operator of the French Ministry of Justice.
The Courthouse in Nancy will bring together the penal, civic, social and trades courts on one site. Creating a singular hub for these legal entities aims to improve the conditions for welcoming the public and the functioning of all courts. The jury selected our design as it ensures a high-quality urban interpolation that highlights the remarkable industrial heritage of the site. Located on the site of the former Alstom factory in the northeast of Nancy’s historic core, the new judicial complex marks the first stage of the transformation of this historically industrial area into an up-and-coming ecological district.
Our project restores the architectural and spatial integrity of the former assembly hall, transforming it into various interconnected spaces. Facades and most portico frames are preserved and dialogue with the project’s different parts: the new judicial building and its logistics spaces, the forecourt, and a dense forest. The greenery is omnipresent and seeps into the building through a large patio, contributing to the image of serene and welcoming justice.
Demolition works carried out by the municipality of Nancy will begin in 2023, while delivery is expected by 2027. Find more information here (in French).
Architect: KAAN Architecten, Paris/Rotterdam
Local architect: Bagard & Luron, Nancy
Structural advisor: EVP Ingénierie, Paris
Installation and Sustainability advisor: INEX, Montreuil
Financial advisor: BMF, Paris/Apprieu
Acoustics advisor: META, Paris
Maintenance and operation: SINTEO, Paris
Landscape design: Territoires, Besançon
Images: ILULISSA, Nancy
Client: The Public Agency for Judicial Real Estate (APIJ)
GFA: 15.000 m2
Program: 10 public courtrooms, 21 cabinet courtrooms, 338 workplaces
On Saturday, 24 September 2022, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (KMSKA) reopened its doors to the public after a thorough eleven-year-long closure for renovation of the historical museum and contemporary extension completely concealed within the existing structure.
After winning an international competition in 2003 commissioned by the Flemish Government, we have worked intensively on the complex masterplan, renovation and extension of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (Belgium), also known as KMSKA (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen), to bring contemporary allure to a glorious, overlooked beauty of the 19th century.
Guests can walk through an enfilade of exhibition rooms tinted in dark pink, green and red; oak doors, tall columns and ceiling ornaments in plasterwork convey a feeling of ancient grandeur.
Meanwhile, hidden in the heart of the old building, a new vertical museum arises as a completely autonomous entity built within the four original patios.
With bright white exhibition halls, hidden rooms, long staircases, far-reaching sightlines and varying gradations of daylight, the new museum charts a route full of surprising vertical experiences.
With the museum’s grand opening, the longest-running project of our office comes to a close. “The renovation was a unique experience, one that has not followed the usual paths of an architectural project in any way. A lot of people have contributed with their hands and head to a result we can now celebrate, and for which I owe everyone a lot of thanks,” says Dikkie Scipio, the founding partner in charge of guiding the masterplan of the renovation for the past two decades.
Our first monograph, PORTRAITS, published by Park Books, has been released. This is the first substantial publication offering a unique perspective on fifteen of our major built works to date.
The selected projects are portrayed as different characters with distinctive physiognomies but belonging to the same family and sharing similar features, hence the book’s title. “Designs morph into characters, and then into buildings,” claims Kees Kaan. “Each project acquires its own identity through the narrative that is developed by the architect. This is a nurturing process that pulls people and stories together to build a powerful, simple, clearly formulated, and connective concept.”
The same idea runs throughout the book, which draws on rich visual documentation, including photographs, original illustrations, and detailed drawings, to explore the studio’s work using different lenses. The eponymous Portraits chapter retraces and unfolds the projects’ narratives, focusing on single pieces of a complex puzzle: a fragment of an image, a citation from an article, a detail. Meanwhile, Gallery, Drawings and Features simply hold up a mirror to the projects, reflecting them as they are, with no additional interpretation.
Original essays by architecture critics Pierre Chabard and Ruud Brouwers weave through the book, interpreting the common architectural themes evident in the firm’s work. Chabard’s Architecture as dialogue mainly elucidates framing, topology, geometry and craft as the hallmarks of KAAN Architecten designs. At the same time, Brouwers reflects on their strong contemporary identity, which is simultaneously rooted in history and future-proof.
The book is available for purchase online and in specialised bookstores, as well as directly from Park Books.
The iconic Aurora building on the corner of the Stadhouderskade and the Overtoom is heading towards a sustainable future. We are collaborating with Being, IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs, DGMR and SkaaL to develop the striking corner building into a state-of-the-art office location with international allure.
The Aurora building is a prominent landmark at the intersection of Centrum, Zuid and West and is one of Amsterdam’s first modernist anchor points. It was designed by the renowned Dutch architect Piet Zanstra for the Aurora life insurance company in the 1960s. The elegant curvature of its facade is a characteristic feature, running almost parallel to the bend of the street corner. The building consists of a commercial plinth with spacious office floors of almost 1,000m2 above.
The renovation of Aurora combines character preservation with innovation. The ambition is to modernise and make the building more sustainable while respecting its history and unique features. Adding a new roof structure, green roof terraces, and a vertical greenhouse will create various outdoor spaces and meeting spots to strengthen the connection within the building and with the neighbourhood. The aim is to obtain an A++ energy label, BREEAM and WELL certification for the building. All sustainability measures contribute to a comfortable and healthy living environment. The focus is on social cohesion and achieving a pleasant living environment, with less noise, heat stress and air pollution.
Aurora will make an ideal new home for major national and international companies due partly to its good accessibility and location in relation to the centre of Amsterdam. First activities regarding renovation are expected at the end of 2023, after the departure of the current tenant, Booking.com.
To mark a year since we launched our MINUTES short film series we talked to Martina Margini, the initiator and curator of this unique project at the intersection of architecture and cinema. In a personal essay titled ‘Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams’, Martina describes her fascination with moving images, the beauty of the unseen and the need for new ways of communicating architecture. Read more in the latest ‘Making of KAAN’ edition below!
Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams
I’m not an architect, but I’ve always been attracted to the built environment: the spaces we occupy, what they represent and how we represent them.
Since I joined KAAN Architecten in 2015, I started working on how to illustrate architectural projects. First, I observed how architects describe their buildings, which supports they choose, which language they use and how their narratives come to life. I noticed how a bad presentation could ‘kill’ a well-thought project and how an intelligent presentation could uplift a project designed in just a couple of days.
Behind the scenes of ‘Today’ by Marcel Ijzerman (the real film director and DOP)
Working in communications, my job is to ‘curate’ the way we present the office’s projects to the broader public: journalists, students, clients, collaborators, social media followers, and so on. It’s complex work requiring understanding your audience and choosing an appropriate language and a suitable medium to spread your message. Because of the press standards in the architectural field, we usually follow a uniform procedure to document projects. This is a ready-to-use package that illustrates the projects at their best. Nevertheless, I felt something was missing, and more could be done to dig into the real essence of a building. Playfully, I imagined a situation where the story of the building is not told by the architect but by someone else who brings a very fresh view of the space.
Behind the scenes of ‘Crafted’ in Maputo with director Benitha Vlok and camera assistant Annalet Steenkamp
During the construction period, the organs and blood vessels of a building take shape; you can almost see the heartbeat. To me, visiting a construction site always felt like an intimate moment, like peeking into a pregnant woman’s belly. Once the machines are gone, the structure is free-standing, now free to roam. The creature (building) has its own life and voice. There is something cathartic about the moment a building is completed. Like the ‘passing of the baton’, the architect and the whole construction team offer a building to its users. From a hand-drawn sketch or 3D model representation, the building is now fully operative and gives room to other narrations outside the contractors’ meeting rooms.
‘Crafted’ behind the scenes at local workshops in Maputo
Thanks to my specific role in the company, I have access to most KAAN Architecten’s buildings. I manage press tours, accompany photographers during their photoshoots, and visit construction sites with our clients to plan a press strategy for upcoming buildings. While walking through these spaces, I was surprised about how many elements I could grasp from these buildings that don’t necessarily emerge through our standard press material. The building ‘lives’ its daily routines, it breathes, and people occupy places in an extraordinary way. There are so many stories to tell.
Erasmus MC Education Centre photoshoot, photo by Fernando Guerra
MINUTES is a way of counting time. It is a standard duration, notes from a meeting, generic and precise at the same time. I thought this name could work well for such an ambitious project. I proposed to launch a series of films. Web and TV series work really well. Series are the product of our times par excellence. Bits of information in a restricted length of time, a story diluted into chapters for better digestion.
MINUTES propose alternative stories about KAAN Architecten buildings. We established a standard set-up for the series, an opening sequence, a clear project identity, and a methodology to approach each movie in a structured way.
Behind the scenes of ‘The Letter H’ by Giulio Squillacciotti
We gave ‘open mic’ to 12 directors from different backgrounds and nationalities to experiment with a selected range of projects. In discussions with them, I always promoted the importance of creating their own vision of the building. The final objective was not to have a documentary of our built portfolio but rather a constellation of stories emerging from personal memories and emotions generated by these spaces.
Fragments of the reality of these buildings are eternalised on film. The buildings aren’t always the centrepieces of narration. Sometimes they serve as settings; other times, we barely see them, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve with MINUTES. Work with evocative images, a sensory experience of space.
Behind the scenes of ‘To become one’ by Romain Loiseau & Tristan Soreau
Our imagination works with images and needs them to operate. Architecture is a constellation of images, but I always thought they lacked the dynamics of how we experience spaces. The vibrating shadows, people’s gossip, the fact that some spaces are dull and others are soothing, dog’s footsteps in an empty space… Films can elevate spaces to places where situations happen.
The adventure of MINUTES was far from being an easy one. In constant conversation with the firm’s partners, I coordinated many directors with brilliant and original ideas while trying to keep the overall project looking like a coherent series. MINUTES touches a vulnerable spot; it is intended as a generous gesture where the architect offers the building to interpretations. It is not very common and, as far as I reckon, this has never been done by other architecture studios, at least not as a full series of movies.
Another significant challenge of MINUTES is offering additional documentation of architectural projects framed at a particular time. For example, I’m thinking about Floating Stillness, which Miguel C. Tavares shot in Lille during the Covid-19 pandemic. We were almost ready to shoot, but then the scenario had to change entirely and adapt to the constraints given by the limited activities in the building and the overall atmosphere of estrangement and loneliness at that moment. On the other hand, when Joana Colomar filmed Utopia, within the walls of a vibrant space filled with the most diverse kind of crowds, she decided to illustrate the building by filming the people occupying the space. Their presence is so significant and gives meaning to the whole architectural project. We can understand the project and how it socially resonates without the need to see the building.
Nowadays, we have the privilege of a fantastic variety of media to capture the essence of a building. Nevertheless, when I’m out of inspiration, I think about the sensibility of Vilhelm Hammershøi, who could evoke the feeling of dust particles dancing in the light that filters through a window with just a still life painting. We all know this precious yet tiny little event. A flat interior space gets inhabited by a small dance originating from the sun. It’s an invitation to discover a story where we thought there was just a dull corner of a building. Life is happening; it’s all about how attentive we are.
Opbouwdag (Construction Day) is a traditional Rotterdam event marked on and around 18 May that celebrates the (re)construction of the city after the Second World War. On that day, just days after the devastating bombing, city architect Willem Gerrit Witteveen was commissioned to develop a plan for a whole new city centre. The day offers an opportunity to look both back and forward to the ever-evolving image of the city. It highlights the importance of heritage, as well as sustainable city planning.
The Reconstruction era was an extremely fruitful period which yielded the city’s many landmarks. As a Rotterdam based studio, we are honoured to have contributed to several of them through renovations, extensions and retrofitting assignments. We dug into our archive to bring you a selected overview below!
Originally built in 1957 in central Rotterdam by renowned architects Van den Broek en Bakema, Galeries Modernes was a prime example of the Reconstruction era architecture of the city. Our new proposal refers to and respects the basic architectonic principles of the original design. Strong volumes with deep setbacks in a primarily horizontal composition and sharp canopies are original qualities that are reinterpreted and translated into a contemporary building.
The Lobby is a sustainable transformation of the current commercial venue Crystal House located in central Rotterdam. Although a part of the historic Lijnbaan ensemble, the building is not a protected monument because it was built later. As a part of the ongoing urban regeneration of the surrounding area, this outdated structure is getting a complete overhaul based on transparency, accessibility and a lively program. The modernist redesign of Crystal House gives the nod to the Rotterdam Reconstruction era yet radiates individuality simultaneously.
In 2013 we have renovated Dreamhouse, one of the monumental buildings by Van den Broek en Bakema from the 1950s in Rotterdam’s Lijnbaan area. While maintaining the existing concrete structure, rectangular volumes have been stacked in balanced proportions and masses similar to the original plan. They display a subtle differentiation of materials, window openings, colours and details, giving a contemporary feel to the traditional post-war architectural identity of Lijnbaan.
We are currently finishing the preliminary design for Lumière, a highrise project adjacent to the protected Lijnbaan ensemble that makes significant steps in the development and desired densification of the city centre and brings to it a qualitative programmatic diversity in line with Rotterdam’s metropolitan ambition.
Central Post is a listed national monument that we transformed into a contemporary and multifunctional office building in 2009. A 90% increase in floor area was achieved through exterior restoration and interior transformation, and the building was granted a Class A Energy Label. The original Louis van Roode art piece on its façade and other integrated art pieces were also restored.
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. A neglected paved courtyard and an existing low-rise building have been converted into a much-used atrium that connects various new educational spaces.
Recently, we have been collaborating on several projects with the Groot Handelsgebouw (GHG), the icon of the 1950s reconstruction. GHG is located in the centre of Rotterdam, right next to the city’s Central Station.
The award ceremony for the BNA, rewarding clients and successful projects for society, took place at the Theatre Zuidplein in Rotterdam yesterday evening.
The jury, headed by Barbara Baarsma, recognized the social value of Courthouse Amsterdam: “Strict, respectable – humane. This building places the administration of justice where it belongs, at the center of society, and provides guidance during compelling moments when life-changing decisions are being taken.”. The jury was impressed by the powerful visual impact of the Courthouse “rather solemn from a distance, while very open and light once close by. The enormous scale of the building is additionally softened by the approachable sculpture on the front public square. The building ‘calls to order’ whilst embracing the visitors, with a generous natural stone square that invites you to step inside.
We’d like to congratulate and thank Rijksvastgoedbedrijf, who trusted consortium NACH and allowed us to develop a successful PPP (Public-Private Partnership) for this project. Congratulations to the whole NACH consortium as well, involving Macquarie Capital, ABT, DVP, KAAN Architecten, Heijmans and Facilicom. We finally would like to congratulate all the other winning offices: Bedaux de Brouwer Architecten, Olaf Gipser Architects, CULD Inbo vof and MVRDV.
Meet Koen Bosman, a KAAN-er for six years whose adventure to build his own small and sustainable home on the outskirts of Eindhoven has become the talk of the office. In his own words, Koen describes the motivations, challenges and ideas that fuelled his decision to forgo the usual path to getting your first home. Read more in the latest ‘Making of KAAN’ edition below!
As architects, we usually design buildings for other people. We provide a service to clients, small or big, and we try to place ourselves in their position and into the position of the building’s users. For the last six years, I’ve been doing exactly this at KAAN Architecten for buildings like the new Amsterdam Courthouse or the new Education Centre of the University of Groningen. The chance to design something for yourself becomes increasingly more difficult with rising real estate and material prices. Especially when you would like to design your own house, the plot price is usually well above the mortgage a 30-something-year-old can afford, let alone the costs of building a house. Luckily people are looking for alternative ways of living, most famously with the Tiny House movement, which is increasingly winning ground in many municipalities in the Netherlands. Although many people, myself included, wouldn’t want to live on 25 sqm with the risk of moving within a couple of years, this movement is actively proving the potential of self-built, bio-based, prefab and modular building, albeit on a very small scale. However, this scale might be on the verge of change.
In Eindhoven, a new neighbourhood called Buurtschap te Veld (En. neighbourhood in a field) is being developed. This neighbourhood will be located in the north of the city, adjacent to the A50 on a large plot of fallow land and will give room to about 570 apartments of different sizes and 100 spaces for self-built houses. Depending on the permit (temporary or regular bouwbesluit), the houses are allowed to stay for 15 or 30 years, resulting in mainly prefab, modular and/or rebuildable homes that are largely bio-based, leading to more sustainable development. Although the project has a supposed end date, this amount of time really allows residents to invest in the project and the environment. Depending on the size of the houses, the people pay a monthly rent of between 300 and 400 euros to the municipality to use the land. Since the area is not divided into plots, all outdoor space is communal. Together with their neighbours, residents can design and maintain the outdoor areas themselves and in agreement with the municipality. At Buurtschap te Veld, my girlfriend and I will be building our own house as well.
The house should have a maximum footprint of 50 sqm and a maximum height of 6 m. Secondly, it should be compact and sustainable. Because the project has multiple intake rounds, we were already designing our house before we had any idea where the house would exactly be located. This resulted in an interesting design approach, where the house is truly designed from the inside out. Because of the still relatively small plot size, we had to rethink the usage of spaces and formulate our personal living preferences. Quite quickly, we concluded that many spaces in a house only serve one specific purpose and are not in use most of the time. By creating a sequence of connected spaces, functions can more easily flow from one into the other, allowing all spaces to be used throughout the day. While positioning the windows and ventilation grills on the first floor, it has already been considered that three bedrooms can be realised by reducing the void. The use of moveable walls will ensure that the spacious concept of the house will stay intact.
The technical space, kitchen and bathroom are grouped on one side of the house, for the efficiency of the MEP, which will also result in a reduced energy loss of the hot water plumbing. Towards the north and east, large windows are positioned to allow for large amounts of daylight while reducing the change of high temperatures in summer. Not only do these windows allow daylight to come far into the house, but they also provide a view of the green surroundings from the working space adjacent to the void.
The house’s exterior is clad with anthracite corrugated steel, reminiscent of burned timber or black tar facades found in rural architecture, allowing it to become a more abstract shape within its eclectic surroundings. The wooden window frames with extended exterior jambs create an interesting contrast with the steel cladding and literally bring the wooden interior outwards, allowing for a connection with the ecological character of the building.
Interestingly, sustainability is not quantified in the project requirements, but many try to build as sustainably as possible by default. For example, many people use bio-based insulation materials such as hemp, wood fibre, flax, recycled cotton or hay. These materials are renewable and compostable, but they are also better at storing heat. Their breathability allows for a vapour-open structure, which creates a much healthier living climate and reduces the amount of heat loss through ventilation to get rid of excess moisture. To minimize costs and the carbon footprint, a lot of houses, including our own, will be built with second-hand materials, such as window frames or leftover batches of insulation.
All houses that want to stay for more than 15 years have to comply with all Dutch regulations, including BENG (Bijna Energieneutraal Gebouw). This can be a challenge since all materials used for the facade should be documented for the final energy label of the house. Our current apartment in Rotterdam has already turned into a storage with stacks of OSB, kitchen, bath, scaffolds and insulation packages all around. Moreover, the new house will be equipped with an air-air heat pump with heating and cooling capabilities. Because of the compact and adjustable design, it will be naturally ventilated. High costs of heat pump systems led us to use an electric boiler, which could be exchanged with a ventilation air-water heat pump in the future since the boiler and ventilation unit are located in the same place. On the south-facing pent roof, PV panels will be placed.
We are currently in the process of finalising the design to submit the building permit. The first apartments are already built at Buurtschap te Veld, and the first self-build houses will start construction in May 2022. The area where we will build is due to be ready for construction in Q3-Q4 2022.
– Koen Bosman
Follow the progress of Koen and Maartje’s house here!
We are proud to announce our winning proposal for the renovation of the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht. The assessment committee, led by Chief Government Architect Francesco Veenstra, unanimously opted for our vision in which the monument and the new architecture optimally reinforce each other.
The committee appreciated the integrated attention to the visitor experience and the interplay between old and new. They also praised our reflection on the museum’s contents, in which daring interventions bring unity to the entire complex. On this assignment, we worked together with Origin Architecture & Engineering, who contributed with their expertise in restoring and renovating monuments and landscapes.
Museum director Marieke van Schijndel says: ‘We are delighted that KAAN Architecten will be making the design for our new museum. The current museum building has a capacity of 100,000 visitors per year and no longer meets the needs of the 160,000 exhibition visitors, school children, families and tourists we receive every year. The vision of KAAN Architecten is a brilliant translation of our ambitions and makes the building, which is so linked to Utrecht history, part of the visitor experience. The proposal solves logistical challenges, provides space for all our visitors and offers opportunities for sustainability. We will have more space for our temporary exhibitions and the outdoor spaces will become more accessible’.
We are looking forward to developing the vision for Utrecht’s historical landmark. Find more information about the project here.
Out of 82 entries, the jury selected ten candidates to compete for BNA’s Best Building of the Year 2022 award. Our Amsterdam Courthouse is nominated in the ‘Identity and Iconic Value’ category.
‘Best Building of the Year’ is a Dutch architecture prize awarded by the Dutch Architectural Firms Association (BNA) for buildings that offer added value to clients, users and society. The nominated projects are eligible for the jury prize and the audience award decided by a public vote that is open until April 28. Cast your vote here! The winners will be announced on May 12 in Theater Zuidplein in Rotterdam.
On 18 March 2022, the name of the new Educational Centre at the University of Groningen was officially unveiled in a festive ceremony that also celebrated a recent start of construction. The new building on the Healthy Ageing Campus will be named after the Groningen resistance fighter and medical student Anda Kerkhoven (1919-1945).
The Anda Kerkhoven Centre is expected to be completed by the end of 2023 and will offer teaching, meeting and working spaces for around 2,000 students and staff from the Faculty of Medical Sciences and the Faculty of Science and Engineering (Pharmacy).
The new building will be the face of the part of the campus surrounding the Antonius Deusinglaan, which in the coming years will be transformed into a lively and green city square with branches of the University College Groningen and cultural student centre surrounding it.
The Anda Kerkhoven Centre consists of a high brick building block with education spaces and a lower foyer with a green roof garden on top. The foyer is closely connected to the outdoor area and the rest of the buildings and therefore functions as a true new entrance to the Healthy Ageing Campus. The building will have a relaxed atmosphere that encourages cooperation and knowledge transfer, and invites to a healthy lifestyle, with much attention to space and sustainability. The energy will be generated sustainably using solar panels and a thermal energy storage system. Explore the design here.
Image by Filippo Bolognese
Read more information here and follow the construction via a live webcam.
Building team Architect: KAAN Architecten Installation consultant: Sweegers en De Bruijn Construction engineer: abtWassenaar Building physics advisor: Peutz Contractor: Aannemingsmaatschappij Hegeman BV, in collaboaration with: De Groot Installatiegroep Contract management: ZRi Infra: WMR Landscape design: Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners
Images courtesy of the University of Groningen, unless otherwise stated.
Yesterday a festive ceremony marked the unveiling of the first artwork reinstalled in the historic halls of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. The exciting and emotional moment was captured by photographer Sanne De Block.
Rubens’ Baptism of Christ was hoisted straight up into the Rubens Hall through hatches in the floors. These slots come in handy for transporting the paintings to and from the underground depot for safekeeping.
Photo by Karin Borghouts
After the Rubens, other ancient and modern masters will follow based on a strict plan worked out by the curators and restorators. In total, 650 works will soon be placed on the walls of the restored and new museum rooms.
Following a thorough extension and renovation by KAAN Architecten, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts is set to open on 24 September 2022.
Images courtesy of KMSKA and Sanne De Block, unless otherwise indicated.
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Static’, now freely available worldwide on the MINUTES web platform. This film marks the eleventh release for the series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
Directed by Spirit of Space at the Crematorium Siesegem in Aalst, Belgium, ‘Staticexplores the power of architectural imagery in visually manipulating space and time to create an idyllic perception.
Faceless, empty forms are designed to define the scale abstractly so we can envision ourselves inside future buildings and landscapes. If we suddenly became one of these static figures our emotions would shift. All we would know is what we’ve assumed from staring blindly at empty blogs, feeds, and exhibits of blank forms. What is the intended purpose of our dream world? If generalizations and monoculture blind us from the purpose of architecture we all become aliens navigating static worlds of isolation.
Spirit of Space was founded in 2006 in Chicago based on the belief that buildings tell stories. They completed about 200 film shorts working with architects and designers such as Jeanne Gang, Amanda Williams, Steven Holl, Wolf Prix, and Daniel Libeskind. The art of SOS filmmaking lies in taking sequential authentic experiences and directing and editing in such a way that the emotional intensity of the project is felt. Their films are exhibited in museums, biennials, and galleries, but in keeping with the belief that design should be accessible to everyone almost all of their work is found online and distributed through educational lectures and public events.
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Floating Stillness’, now freely available worldwide on the MINUTES web platform. This film marks the tenth release for the series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
Directed by Miguel C. Tavares at Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Hauts-De-France, Floating Stillness portrays a specific moment in time. It is a meditation on a paradoxical period at a multifunctional building for collective use. Instead of weaving together people and stories, the big machine is on standby, its parts suspended mid-air.
Floating Stillness guides us through different spaces as the temporarily vacant building is revealed in fragments. The sound emerges, unveiling an expectant inner soul. In this narrative, the building is the starting point for a poetic analysis of the moment we are living in.
Miguel C. Tavaresworks as an independent filmmaker and frequently collaborates with different artists and disciplines. Together with Ana Resende and Tiago Costa, he started a series of films that explore visual constructions from architectural works. Their latest projects are The Construction of Villa Além (in collaboration with Rui Manuel Vieira), a film that follows the construction of a house by Swiss architect Valerio Olgiati on the Alentejo coast.
The Visitor Center is a product of an integrated design process dedicated to creating an effective and efficient facility with attention to the landscape. Located on an opening amid a ring of scattered trees, the building blends with the sloping topography, its presence delicate compared to the monumental features of the Cemetery. Explore the complete project here!
Recently named as one of the 20 most anticipated buildings of 2022 by the Domus magazine, the renovation of Galeries Modernes is steadily advancing. Scroll down for a photo report from the construction site in the heart of Rotterdam!
Strong volumes with deep setbacks in a horizontal composition and sharp canopies are original qualities reinterpreted and translated into a contemporary building.
The façade design is equivalent on all sides of the building with a transparent plinth of big glass panels resembling the rhythm of the original façade.
Above the plinth, a glass box and natural stone volumes follow in a horizontal alignment. Few carefully chosen materials manifest in a natural yet elegant ensemble.
Inside the building, a patio will bring light into the hotel. On top of the 5th floor, a terrace and a pavilion will be surrounded by a green roof looking out over the city centre of Rotterdam.
On Tuesday, February 01, 2022, Architectenweb, in collaboration with the Lectoraat Bouwtransformatie van de Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Pakhuis de Zwijger and MORE Architecture, is organizing a symposium on the emergence of a new hybrid building block: the combination of a closed building block with several residential towers.
This new typology is explored and discussed based on precursors from Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht. What are the design solutions applied in this block? What are the challenges? And how will these blocks shape the future city?
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Await’, now freely available worldwide on the MINUTES web platform. This film marks the ninth release for the series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
‘Await’ is a visual essay about the transformation of grief captured in and around the Heimolen Crematorium, directed by From Form.
The crematorium’s symbolic architecture reflects on moments of loss, acceptance, and finding relief that often seem to flow into each other and raise the question of whether this occurs in the past, present or near future.
From Form is a Rotterdam-based film and design studio founded by Jurjen Versteeg and Ashley Govers. They’re passionate about working across print, spatial and film. They have also designed the MINUTES visual identity, including the opening sequence for the series and all film posters.
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘The Letter H’, now freely available worldwide on the MINUTES web platform. This film marks the eighth release for the series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
The film is an exercise in imagination set on an idyllic countryside estate, directed by the Italian artist and filmmaker Giulio Squillacciotti. While preparing for exams, two students speculate on something that only exists in their minds and, step by step, find themselves in the space they shaped with words.
Following her participation at the COP26 in Glasgow, our managing director Renata Gilio talks to us about her active work as an urban planner and policymaker in Brazil, ideas for achieving resilient cities and misconceptions about sustainability. Read more in the latest ‘Making of KAAN’ edition below!
Many may not know about your involvement in the sustainability policymaking of São Paulo. Can you give us some background on how it all started?
Well, for the past eight years already, we have been working on large urban projects in Brazil to reshape regulations by promoting urban hub densification, restoring green pockets at water edges, and developing low impact mobility infrastructures.
Thanks to our work in planning and sustainability development of large urban scale projects, KAAN Architecten has been invited as a voting member of the Chamber for Climate Change in São Paulo. This has been a very fruitful collaboration. The direct exchange with companies from the private and public sectors keeps us connected to new technologies and market development.
How did you go about making realistic goals for climate improvement in SP?
At the Chamber, we believe that decarbonization is the victim of a horse race where lack of data damages the liability of the matter. When it comes to the worldwide rules, we are all behind, and today there are still no precise scales and methodologies common to different nations. So the first step was setting the basis for national regulations and measuring carbon emissions.
And has it taken off in the direction you intended it to?
Definitely! After three years of work, we finally created our own system of carbon credits in São Paulo state. The strategy of the Chamber encourages a collaborative approach via incentives. We took on the role to calculate CO2 emissions and created a compensation program for private companies in Brazil. Today more than 1.000 private companies are already part of the voluntary program, and we hope to develop new regulations for the private sector soon. At the COP26, the Chamber presented the results of this effort and the regulations in a joint publication. This is just the beginning, and I’m eager to see the evolution of the discussions in different countries, especially after the progress achieved on unifying regulations during the COP26.
Chamber for Climate Change members at the COP26 in Glasgow
Based on that experience, how do you see the policies of São Paulo, and other cities for that matter, evolving?
Containing growth in urban expansion is key to sustainable and resilient development. It is possible to live within the limits of the ecosystem, meet the present and future needs, and ensure justice and equity for all through high quality, well thought urban projects. For me, that’s the most rewarding thing about working as an urban planner: making meaningful changes.
The main goal should always be to promote building resiliency when studying urban development based on affordability, compactness and connectivity. Not all urban innovations require high-end technology skills or equipment. And it’s always a good option to start a concept with a passive sustainability approach. In the end, sustainability is an exercise in citizenship, also for architects and urban planners.
Project: Operação Urbana Consorciada SBC
How does the work of KAAN Architecten tie in with this?
When we look into general KAAN methodology, it’s based on process, understanding the questions, and creating the best possible answer/design. That’s also our approach to sustainability. Sometimes the focus is clearly on community building and social development, sometimes in low maintenance and representation, other times in overall carbon footprint. But the common denominator is a profound respect for the site and its specificities.
Some examples of this work are the urban operation projects for Sao Bernardo do Campo, Sao Jose dos Campos and Contagem. ‘Urban operation’ is a focused review of urban legislations for an area developed under the government’s coordination and involving the private sector, residents and users of the site. In these projects, the goal is to densify the consolidated areas within a given perimeter, shape and regulate real estate interventions in target places seeking to produce an urban space with structural transformations, social improvements and environmental enhancement.
Operação Urbana Consorciada São José
This is rarely the kind of work most people have in mind when you mention sustainability…
Yes, people usually forget that sustainability is much more than the visible environmental aspects of a project. Intangible, economic and social matters are just as important and, as architects, it is our moral obligation to discuss and work on those matters too. I’m not a very big fan of the term “greenwashing”, but that’s exactly what happens when we simply discuss matters like the materiality of a building, for example, without considering its carbon chain, logistics, the boost for the local economy, durability and maintenance efforts for those design choices.
There is one undeniable truth when we speak about sustainability, though – the most sustainable building is the one you don’t build. The same is true for urban planning: the best way to promote the decarbonization of modern cities is to understand their infrastructure and densify strategic neighbourhoods rich in mobility nodes and public equipment. It sounds like something quite intuitive and straightforward but it’s remarkably difficult to achieve.
Renata Gilio is the Managing Director of KAAN Architecten with extensive experience in urban planning projects across Brazil and Latin American territory. She is an active member of the Sao Paulo Chamber for Climate Change and Sustainable Cities Club.
Interview by Valentina Bencic. The original text was edited for clarity and brevity.
The creative collaboration between musical artist Sevdaliza and KAAN Architecten is a celebration of female leadership in every form.
The evocative photographs by Willemskantine showcase Sevdaliza‘s powerful presence as she embodies every position in the workplace. No distinction is made between these positions: they each hold potential, talent, power and strength. Hierarchy is non-existent. Sevdaliza is EVERY WOMAN.
The right combination of ingredients meets in De Bank, our Rotterdam headquarters representing THE OFFICE – the everyday work environment of millions of people throughout the globe. THE OFFICE is characterized by the solid balance between two simple materials, wood and concrete, creating a stable, durable and strong realm. Sevdaliza is characterized by her continuously flowing cutting-edge artistry with a long-term philosophical and existential approach to being. Together they merge power, innovation and strength, resulting in self-explanatory art. It effectively emphasizes the concept of female leadership in every interpretation possible. Construction of two identities melting together into an alluring combination of roughness and elegance.
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Territory of the Beings’, now freely available worldwide on the MINUTES web platform. This film marks the seventh release for the series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
Directed by Dutch visual artist Mirte van Duppen, ‘Territory of the Beings’ pays homage to the classic wildlife documentaries by exploring the office setting as if it were a natural habitat of an animal species – the ‘beings’.
Set in the District Water Board Brabantse Delta office building, the movie is a comprehensive survey of the beings (the employees) in a modern ecosystem consisting of flexible islands (the office). The narrator takes you on tour: displaying, analyzing and describing the beings’ behaviour and how they occupy and defend their territory.
As an official member of São Paulo’s Chamber for Climate Change, KAAN Architecten will participate in the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-26) in Glasgow. Find out more below!
Through our branch office in Sao Paulo and the active membership of managing director Renata Gilio in the Chamber for Climate Change, KAAN Architecten is a part of the policymaking processes for the sustainable development of the State of São Paulo. The Chamber was founded by the state government agency CETESBto technically support the São Paulo Environmental Agreement. It brings together 18 representatives from various sectors of the economy of São Paulo, working to encourage the technological change and structural shifts necessary to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, creating decarbonization policies and regulations in the State.
Today at the COP-26 summit in Glasgow, CETESB and the Government of the State of São Paulo are launching the book ‘São Paulo Environmental Agreement: 56 successful cases in the climate agenda’. The book is a joint research effort in reducing GHG emissions and its findings will also be presented as a part of the CETESB-UN Climate Change Partnership on Friday, 5 November.
We are proud to introduce CIRCLE – a construction module based on an optimized concrete shell developed in collaboration with Casco Totaal and ABT. The concept will be introduced at the PREFAB fair from 12 to 14 October, Brabanthallen, Den Bosch.
CIRCLE combines good design, smart construction and efficient operation. It offers a robust and quickly realizable solution to the increasing demand for smaller and flexible homes with high quality, circularity at all levels, shorter construction time and lower costs.
Its optimized 3D-Concrete Shell® of 35 square metres is made in an industrial production environment that ensures high quality. Each module has standardized openings for installations and circulation which allows units to be coupled horizontally or stacked vertically. Rapid realization and just-in-time delivery of the modules significantly shorten the construction process and allow for up to 20% lower construction costs. Integral design and prefabrication ensure standardization and therefore less waste. In addition, the standardized module enables high-quality reuse of its parts due to the separation of construction, finishing and installations. The concrete is 100% recyclable. Come find out more at the PREFABfair!
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Dynamo’, now freely available worldwide on the MINUTES web platform. This film marks the sixth release for the series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
Directed by Katja Verheul, ‘Dynamo‘ weaves a mysterious tale of a creature wandering around the empty CUBEat the Tilburg University inspired by a local anecdote of a puma sighting in the forest.
Nothing can stay hidden in a completely transparent building, so we occasionally catch glimpses of the creature’s body in reflections on the windows or captured on security cameras. But what are we watching? Or rather, who is watching whom?
In case you missed it: the video from the event ‘Building Stories – Architecture on Film‘ is available to watch in full. Organized in collaboration with Pakhuis de Zwijger the event was dedicated to screening a curated selection of projects from the MINUTES film series.
In ‘Making of KAAN’, we uncover the stories behind some of our most known projects as told by the designers who worked on them. Through personal anecdotes and lessons learned, meet the team that makes KAAN Architecten. We spoke to Marco Lanna, project leader of the Amsterdam Courthouse. He tells us about the collaborative design process in DBFMO contracts, context-aware building and embedded sustainability. Read more below!
The Amsterdam Courthouse is another high-security institutional building designed and built by our office over the past 20 years. In fact, I looked it up – the Courthouse project began around the time we finished the Supreme Court in The Hague, which you also worked on.
Was there a transference of knowledge gained in the Supreme Court and applied to the Courthouse? Perhaps certain elements the two buildings had in common?
Although similar in the program, the Supreme Court in The Hague and the Amsterdam Courthouse have some differences. While the former is a tendentially closed building, only open to selected visitors under specific circumstances, Amsterdam Courthouse is a fully public institution. The urban settlement of both designs is also very different. The Supreme Court reacts to a consolidated urban structure – the historical city centre of The Hague. At the same time, the Courthouse is located in an extraordinary area of Amsterdam South, where three urban plans crucial to the city’s growth have exercised their influence. Our building reacts to this rich history and its truly public character by opening up to the surroundings.
L: Supreme Court of the Netherlands, R: Amsterdam Courthouse Photograph by Fernando Guerra FG+SG
In French, they have an excellent name for a Courthouse: cité judiciaire. This expresses our goal for the design: a building that continues the city public space. The result is a building that serves its purpose – that of showing the process of justice, visually accessible but still authoritative, imposing in the right measure. Making room for the large public square generated pressure on the programme organisation inside and was reflected in the complex engineering of some parts. Therefore, the functional and logistical challenges of the Amsterdam Courthouse have also been much more demanding than the ones of the Supreme Court.
However, we can find many similarities between the two projects. In both, we see a very high building quality, coming from the choice of durable materials, carefully detailed and well-assembled. In fact, both buildings are conceived under a DBFMO (Design, Build, Finance, Maintain, Operate) contract. In this type of contract, the architect works in a consortium with engineers, a construction company (and its subcontractors) and a facility management party on the design from its early stages. Their expertise is conveniently reflected in the design, which results in a robust, highly qualitative building made to stay.
Indeed, we often describe the Courthouse as a future-proof building with embedded sustainability. Can you reflect on that? Did the collaborative process enable this?
When signing a DBFMO contract, both the client and the appointed consortium enter a mutual commitment for 30 years, which involves a delicate repartition of costs in case of future transformations or adaptations. This situation forces both parties to prevent extra costs beforehand. On the client’s side, occupants and users are intensively stimulated to reflect on foreseeable changes to their primary functional process, which would require an adaptation of the spaces. Envisaged transformations are then included in the project specifications as a requirement. On the designer’s and contractor’s side, there is interest in minimising the costs for replacing or maintaining materials and installations, which would be necessary to avoid penalties.
Hence, combining both parties’ interests results in efficient and flexible layouts based on modularity for the predictable changes and additional reservations for the less foreseeable ones. In combination with state-of-the-art, technical solutions, this results in a building that needs virtually no heavy maintenance over a long time. We have learned to call that “embedded sustainability” – a concept that spans way beyond the mainstream sustainability features.
Photograph by Dominique Panhuysen
In light of this, one could reconsider some elements of the flashy greenwashed sustainability. I am highly conscious of the opportunity and responsibility that the building industry is taking up by broadcasting a “green” future. Our world needs a change and whatever moves in that direction is good. However, a lot of this greenwash is still too experimental or fragile. Take wood as an example: it needs more treatments and is subject to replacement much, much earlier than natural stone. Greenwash is a trend that very much tunes on the needs of today, but a courthouse should be timeless and designed in a way that preserves its image unchanged over time.
Suppose we analyse the energy demand throughout a building’s lifespan, including its construction, transformations, demolition or dismantling. In that case, we see that most energy demand is in the first and the last phase, where the transportation of materials, disposal of debris and the use of building facilities require energy. So the best way of thinking of an energy-neutral building is to make one that lasts as long as it can. This is not just a matter of engineering. For a building to last long, it must gain social recognition and relevance in the community of its users.
Photograph by Sebastian van Damme
This is precisely what happened with the amazing sculpture Love and Generosity by Nicole Eisenmann on the forecourt. The press coverage for it has been probably higher than the building’s itself. Lately, when I pass by the Courthouse, there is always a professional photographer shooting the sculpture. Secondly, there is a group of skaters and BMX-ers who enjoy the ramps and benches of the square. Once I talked to them for a bit, and they told me an incredible story. In the beginning, they were shooed upon their arrival. But then, someone I later learned was a Courthouse representative – visited a local skate guru who addresses the rest of the skating community. Together they established some ground rules; for example, no grease allowed on the benches to preserve the lawyers’ suits. And from that moment on, skaters were welcome again.
A genuinely public building represents the institution’s authority while opening up to the community; it involves art in creating symbols that enrich the narrative and give a sense of belonging.
The construction phase of such a building must have been quite a venture. Can you walk us through some of the challenges you faced there and how you, eventually, dealt with them?
In Italian, there’s a beautiful, old word: sprezzatura. It refers to something that looks easy and obvious but conceals a great deal of engineering. I like to think of this building as an example of it.
When I looked back at the design documents of the first dialogue phases, before a contractor joined our consortium, I realised that the building had the same programme organisation, massing, façade design, and type of natural stone already 6 weeks after the start of the design! We knew by intuition from the very beginning that this was the right model AND the right design. The rest of the process has been a long journey of engineering and fine-tuning. We benefited from the expertise of the engineers, the facility management company, the main contractor, and the subcontractors. The peculiar organisation of a DBFMO design process confronts the designer early on with the need for solutions to design challenges that minimise risks.
Photograph by Dominique Panhuysen
I like to mention the design of the façade as an example. We wanted the columns to be as thin as possible since the building concept is about showcasing the use behind the envelope and not making it carry its own significance, as most buildings on the Zuidas do. At the same time, the façade line in the foyers needed to be flat to prevent people from hiding behind a column which implied putting them outside the glass line – structural profiles inside the metal case, wrapped with insulation. This required consideration of all kinds of challenges early on: production and montage tolerances of the steel parts, sufficient exposure of the structural profiles to the inner temperature to prevent deformations, montage sequence and agreements on the position and size of seams, bolts, welding… These are things you usually deal with during construction. In this case, they were anticipated into the design process by putting the façade contractor, steel supplier, main contractor, structural engineer, building physics engineer, and the architect around one table. Only after two lifesize mock-ups and conceiving numerous innovative engineering methods for steel production everyone had enough confidence that the designed solutions were valid enough.
Photograph by Dominique Panhuysen
Circling back to the thread of knowledge transference – what are the main takeaways from the Courthouse for you? What do you see being embedded in our next projects?
There are multiple takeaways from this project. In my opinion, the most important one is the power of narrative in the design process. As strong and right architect’s intuition can be, there are moments in the design process where hundreds of other people operate very far from the main concept source. How do you make sure everyone moves in the same direction?
Photograph by Dominique Panhuysen
The architect’s authority is essential when exercised constructively and inclusively, as it creates a sphere of trust from which everyone benefits. But this alone isn’t sufficient. We had to respond many times to our own question: what is this building about? We like to work with presentations featuring infographics, a graphic language that can’t be misinterpreted. By constantly referring to the founding ingredients of our story, as communicated to the client and our whole team, we kept a screenplay to which new ingredients would add up in time as the original core values evolved. In the same fashion, all design choices we needed to make, even and especially when in contrast to the Program of Requirements, were documented, explaining alternatives and justifying why we considered the chosen option the best one.
Photograph by Dominique Panhuysen
There is also another important takeaway. The DBFMO design process generates the architect’s awareness of the efficacy and appropriateness of the design choices when time is an important factor. Together with experienced facility managers, you get to think early on about matters such as: how big and well connected does the furniture storage need to be if FM has to arrange the layout of a Courtroom in a contractually given time? Where to place a coffee corner considering the natural routing of people through the building so that revenues can be maximised? Or more technically: what is the best compromise to still realise that nice plaster ceiling in the foyer, considering the frequency of maintenance of the installations behind it?
Photographs by Sebastian van Damme and Fernando Guerra FG+SG
We have learned to think this through at an early stage. And the great thing is that so many people in our office had the opportunity to work on this big project – so this knowledge is now widely spread in the office. After all, once you make a building that sets a new standard, you aim at no less for your next project!
Marco Lanna is one of the Managing Architects of KAAN Architecten with extensive experience in developing and managing complex building projects such as the Amsterdam Courthouse and Supreme Court of the Netherlands.
Interview by Valentina Bencic. The original text was edited for clarity and brevity.
On Tuesday, 28 September 2021 at 20.00, Pakhuis de Zwijger will host a MINUTES event titled ‘Building Stories – Architecture on Film’. See you there!
During the event at Pakhuis de Zwijger, a curated selection of 2 films and a performance from the MINUTESseries will be screened. The event will be a hybrid between a screening and a talk followed by live and online audiences.
This period of intense uncertainty inevitably led us to reflect on our lives and the physical (or symbolic) space we occupy in our environment and society. The three selected projects reflect on the ‘meaning of being’, metaphorically touching the topics of birth, death and immortality.
It emerges through the forces of creation (Craftedby Benitha Vlok), the acceptance of mortality (Staticby Spirit of Space) or possible immortality (Notes on an Immortal Being by Jaime Levinas). Building stories will explore this conceptual fil-rouge crossing over the 3 projects while discussing the potential of intertwining cinema, architecture and other creative practices.
The talk-screening Building Stories will be moderated by Dana Linssen, a film critic and writer. During the evening, 3 works from the MINUTES series will be presented by Benitha Vlok(via Zoom), Spirit of Space and Jaime Levinas, introducing his upcoming expanded cinema project ‘Notes on an Immortal Being’ with a performance. Besides them, KAAN Architecten founder and associated partner Dikkie Scipio and Martina Margini, MINUTES film series curator, will also participate in the discussion.
To explore the MINUTESproject, visit the project website.
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp has been closed for renovation and extension for ten years and will finally open its doors to the public. Scroll down to find out when!
The fully renovated and extended museum will open its doors to the public in just under a year, on 25 September 2022! The long-awaited opening of Antwerp’s landmark museum was announced with a festive moment this weekend in the presence of Jan Jambon, Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Culture, Digitization and Facility Management and Luk Lemmens, chairman of KMSKA board of directors.
Photograph by Stijn Bollaert
The museum will welcome the visitors by exhibiting the highlights of its collection as well as new modern pieces in the additional 40% more exhibition space due to the extension by KAAN Architecten. Explore the full project on our website. For more updates, stay in touch with KMSKA here!
In ‘Making of KAAN’, we uncover the stories behind some of our most known projects as told by the designers who worked on them. Through personal anecdotes and lessons learned, meet the team that makes KAAN Architecten. For the first edition, we spoke to Walter Hoogerwerf, the project leader on the renovation and extension of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Find out how this process shaped him as an architect and his favourite memory of the project!
The process of renovating and extending KMSKA has been at the same time delicate and respectful to the old building but in other parts quite radical when it came to building up the extension. How did you navigate between the two approaches?
Interesting topic. First of all, I’ve never considered it as two different approaches. For me, it is one project where every part was worked on with the same delicacy, attention, respect and, indeed, radicality. Although the monument required more time researching on-site, working with the unknown and dealing with surprises to get, for instance, the same level of integrated details we designed on paper in the new extension.
In our vision, the new spaces are a completely different world with new experiences and possibilities, set apart from the monumental spaces. Therefore, the materiality of the two also required a big focus on contrast. In the monument, we searched for the artisan, the craftsman’s hands, the oak and the wax, the age and the wear, the scale and the weight. At a certain point, I had to explain to the plasterer not to make the walls too smooth, the parquet installers not to close the gaps, things like that. Beautiful but not perfect, matching the monument. Smooth straight surfaces were for the new museum. A similar thing about the paintworks; no perfect spray in the monument but visible brushstrokes. Even on the ceilings.
L: Karin Borghouts, R: Toon Grobet
The abstract immaterial spaces of the new museum had the same attention to materiality. Choice of paint, delicate PU floor with depth, floor boxes in marble and messing, infamous zero-point details, immaculate skylight, those kinds of things. No visible marks of the craftsmen, of the effort, of the engineering, but even more necessary so.
We were also quite radical in the monument to resuscitate it; no small changes were made. The colours, for example, are a far cry from what they were; we’ve even inverted the wall-ceiling contrasts. Most colours were not exactly what we measured but were made more saturated, some colours darker, some colours acting as an intermediate. All decided after applying test surfaces.
KAAN Architecten archive
Radical breaches in the monument were necessary to give the new museum its hidden routing possibilities. On the other hand, the new building, where the installations were built in two technical towers and main air distribution filled an entire floor, serves as an infuse for the monument delivering air, heat and cooling. The new and the old need each other; they rely on each other functionally, technically and materially. That is why it is one project and not a monument with an extension.
The project itself took around 17 years, from conception to finish. The conditions for which it has been designed and in which it will continue to live have changed during that time – how do you keep a design relevant to conditions in flux?
This is a situation that is a reality we are facing in almost every project, although in different proportions. 17 years is a lot, but it took a good 6 years of contracts, master planning and budget finding before the design work could start. We had a good concept, widely supported, strong enough, but not too determined, able to remain all those years: hidden new museum built up within the courts of a revived and freed monument. We could keep using it as a starting point with every new development, enhance it and improve it. We fitted new developments within this framework, and under our control, we kept the consistency in the project.
L: Karin Borghouts, R: Stijn Bollaert
What iterations and changes did you have to make?
One example of this is the redesign of the public facilities with a more generous restaurant, shop and receptions facilities. In the design of phase 2, the budget had to be focused on exposing and preserving the art and the monument for the community. Public facilities, or more precisely, commercial facilities, had to be modest. In 2017 KMSKA changed from a government agency to a non-profit organisation, with more autonomy on finance and development. At the same time, the expected visitor numbers had increased. These conditions made possible, and for KMSKA necessary, a redesign of the public facilities. We could stay within our defined public zone at the front of the building. In fact, extra square metres were found by moving the library office to the back of the building. This way, the entire front became public, and the library reading room became more prominent, with event possibilities.
Most importantly, we had the commissions for all the major phases and disciplines in my team; phase 1, phase 2, security, public facilities, offices and ateliers. This allowed for all these parts to be as consistent as a project can be. With other parts, the ones out of our control, the consistency is not self-evident.
I can only assume this is the longest-running project in your career, and as such, it must have shaped you as an architect – what are the lessons you learned along the way?
It definitely shaped me as an architect. I’m in my 12th year on the project now with one more to go, and I must say it is hard to imagine not working on it. I’ve got the chance to work on it from the start of the preliminary design, from the first phase all the way up to the delivery of the final phase. I was always very aware of how rare that is, but also that I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I learned how vulnerable a project is in this kind of long process. Everything could have and did, in fact, happen. Imagine changing four ministers of culture and three museum directors, new personnel in our design teams, the client’s team and the KMSKA team. Also, imagine working without a set budget and programme at the start. At a certain point, you become the guardian of the project, and I liked that. I noticed recently that it is hard to let that go.
Another thing is the importance of investments in personal contacts. Not only to make sure the mutual understanding is enduring but also to build what we’ve envisioned. I realise that what we designed is in many ways quite out of the ordinary and needs enthusiastic collaboration to get built. Together.
L: Karin Borghouts, R: Sebastian van Damme
Then there’s bound to be many interesting stories from such a long collaboration. Does any particular story or anecdote stand out?
There are so many, but one that is very dear to me is about colours. Halfway through the construction, doubts were raised about the colours of the museum spaces by someone external to the design process (see my previous point about vulnerability). There was a big debate about our design with the clear white, night blue and saturated dark reds, greens and browns instead of their suggestion to make everything light grey. Indeed, everything in light grey – walls, ceilings and wherever possible, also the floors.
Our approach to clarify this situation for everyone involved was to prepare for a meeting meticulously. We built up a clear argument and made a presentation that outlined our design’s intentions and results compared to the light grey one step by step, from the generic to the specific, with the projected artwork and big colour samples. All this without judgement, relying very much on the quality of our intent. At that time, the most precious artworks of the KMSKA collection were exhibited in an early 17th century premises in Antwerp: Rockox House. We proposed to meet there, among the art, to make the subject tangible and, most importantly, to prevent a theoretical discussion. A new context can be an eye-opener.
This meeting cleared up the subject very well for everyone, as you can see in the built result. To drive the point home, we took the colour samples to the paintings. There I was holding a large NCS 4550-Y90R sample right next to Fouquet’s Madonna surrounded by seraphim and cherubim from 1456. We showed the wall colour samples next to different paintings and got the KMSKA team of art historians assured and even more enthused. In fact, it generated the decision to have another series of rooms, the so-called “salon”, coloured in dark green because it matched better with the artworks planned for those rooms.
L: Karin Borghouts, R: Stijn Bollaert
Many museums ask for rooms as neutral boxes to be filled and coloured by the exposition works. I think that is an unnecessary pity. In KMSKA, we managed to keep the architecture’s coherence, the vision of the monument and the new museum all in harmony with the art. And colour played a more significant role in this than I could have imagined. Our goal for the KMSKA is not only a beautiful, well-built container to experience and preserve the collection, but having the building as a part of the collection, part of the experience with a presence of its own. I’m sure we have achieved this. I can’t wait for the opening.
Walter Hoogerwerf is a project leader at KAAN Architecten currently working on the last phase of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, as well as the renovation and extension of Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn.
Interviewed by Valentina Bencic. Featured image by Stijn Bollaert.
Explore the museum under construction in the video below!
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Ruling’, now freely available worldwide on MINUTES web platform.
Directed by Dutch filmmaker Dorian de Rijk, Ruling portrays the imposing Supreme Court of the Netherlands in The Hague. The camera explores the space, choreographing justice procedures and reading the architectural program as if it were a case at the Court. It circulates through different chambers and domains, ending up in the main courtroom.
Ruling investigates the semiotics of power and what it means to rule today. This procedure is translated into an aesthetic gesture that enhances the timeless architecture of the Supreme Court and its design coherency that expresses the innate duality of a court of law – being open and transparent yet safe and secure.
The movie was already exclusively previewed during the 2019 ADFF Short Films Walk: New York and in a joint event with the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR), Galerie de Jaloezie, and Roffa Mon Amour at the 2021 Rotterdam Architecture Month.
This film marks the fifth release for the eponymous series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
Organised by the Fundació Mies van der Rohe with support of the Creative Europe Programme of the European Commission, the Award is dedicated to recognizing and commending excellence in European architecture. The Jury will announce the shortlisted works at the beginning of 2022, while the winners will be announced in April 2022.
Chamber of Trades and Crafts, Hauts-de-France Photograph by Sebastian van Damme
Amsterdam Courthouse Photograph by Fernando Guerra FG+SG
Last week marked the official start of construction on The Stack, a residential complex in Amsterdam’s Overhoeks district, located north of the city centre, along the river IJ.
‘Aan het IJ’ is an area development project by Amvest where KAAN Architecten is designing The Stack – a residential ensemble of two buildings connected with underground parking comprising both owner-occupied and rental apartments. Kondor Wessels Amsterdam will act as the main contractor for the project aiming to complete the construction by the end of 2023.
Besides KAAN Architecten’s The Stack, ‘Aan het IJ’ includes projects designed by Orange Architects, KCAP, De Zwarte Hond, Powerhouse and Studioninedots.
We are excited to introduce the short film ‘To Become One’, now freely available worldwide on MINUTES web platform!
Directed by French directors Romain Loiseau and Tristan Soreau, ‘To Become One’ follows the movements of a fictional protagonist equipped with a protective suit as she explores different spaces of an empty building, clinically silent. Abruptly, she senses the presence of someone else around her.
The Institut des Sciences Moléculaires in Orsay unites two architecturally expressed realms, housing theoretical and practical research, into a single entity. ISMO building is therefore distinguished by a harmonic coexistence of nature and scientific research. The split-screen of the short movie ‘To Become One’ enhances the metaphor of the feeling of duality and accompanies the viewer until the main character’s ultimate discovery.
The jury of the 3rd edition of the Simon Architecture Prize has decided to exceptionally grant a Special Mention to the film “To become one”, directed by Romain Loiseau and Tristan Soreau on the Institute for Molecular Sciences’ project in Orsay (France) by KAAN Architecten + Fres Architectes. The jury explained the reason for their decision: “In an effort to defend how much cinema can contribute to the representation and knowledge of architecture, far from being just a communication and promotion tool.”
This film marks the fourth release for the eponymous series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
On a recent visit to the construction site of iCampus in Munich’s Werksviertel district, we have captured the progress on the three office buildings.
The facade works are nearly finished, with over 800 prefab concrete elements installed across the three buildings.
These modules are the largest prefab concrete elements KAAN Architecten has designed as of yet. Their size implies fewer structural joints and plays an essential role in making them not only cost-effective, but time-efficient. In this way, the crane moves faster and completes the mounting in less time.
Each building also features a central atrium as a binding element between the different floors. With a gridded glass roof acting as a lantern above the top floor, the atrium prevents heat accumulation and brings in abundant daylight.
The lookbook for the latest collection by the Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck has been photographed inside the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp.
The Spring Summer 2022 collection, named ‘Neon Shadow’ is inspired by subcultures arising in the digital world. The designer wanted to present the different silhouettes as works of art and therefore placed the models on pedestals as sculptures. The light and space of KMSKA make for a perfect backdrop to showcase the brightness of the collection.
Over the last few months, Paleis Het Loo construction has been steadily advancing. Photographer Dominique Panhuysen brings a report from the site! Explore the progress below!
The glass roof over the Grand Foyer has been installed on a steel structure, introducing daylight to the newly extended museum. The roof will be topped with 4cm of water, creating a pond and reflecting the monumental Palace.
Historical grass parterres have been replaced by the four Bassecour ponds above the underground extension and will be materialised in glass and natural stone.
Seen from the west wing, structural works are being finalised to connect the Grand Foyer of the underground extension with the central Corps de Logis.
The visual connection between Corps de Logis and the underground Foyer is ensured through the glass roof.
The recent bout of sunshine has helped preview the magnificent light effects that will be visible on the walls and floors of the underground extension, soon to be clad in marble.
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Utopia’, now freely available worldwide on MINUTES web platform.
Directed by Spanish director Joana Colomar, ‘Utopia‘ is a ‘slice of life’ look at a building where silence, music, past and future, coexist in perfect harmony.
A building full of life, Utopia Library and Academy for Performing Arts in Aalst thrives on the inextricable link with its citizens and a delicate mixture of seemingly opposite programs it comprises. Like its literary eponym, it emerges as an idyllic home for information, knowledge, culture, and leisure. Utopiais a dream and an island, a place where different people get together.
This film marks the third release for the eponymous series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
MINUTES has also recently been screened at the Rotterdam Architecture Month, as a part of the closing event ‘Undercurrent: Film in de garage’. Follow the linkto check out the photos from the screening.
KAAN Architecten is designing a centrally located residential tower, partly built over the existing milk factory, which will fit between the existing monuments through careful integration with attention to materiality and facade composition. Meanwhile, Mei architects will be designing the adjacent tower, located next to the ring road.
In yesterday’s ceremony, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp was awarded the European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention in the category ‘Intervention in the Built Heritage’.
We are delighted to see the quality of this project recognized among over 200 strong applicants. Our intervention in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts aimed to reverse these spatial changes by combining a thorough renovation of the historic museum with a contemporary extension completely concealed within the existing structure.
We extend our gratitude to everyone involved who made this project possible: Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, Departement Cultuur, Jeugd en Media – Fonds Culturele Infrastructuur and Het Facilitair Bedrijf of the Flemish government, THV Artes Roegiers – Artes Woudenberg; Bureau Bouwtechniek; Royal Haskoning DHV and Architectenbureau Fritz.
We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Crafted’, now freely available worldwide on MINUTES web platform.
Directed by South African director Benitha Vlok, ‘Crafted’ is a short poetic depiction of craftsmanship that holds hands with architecture and directly links to the humanity of the buildings we occupy. This film marks the second release for the eponymous series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.
Photographer Sebastian van Damme brings another photo report from the construction site of De Zalmhaven. Scroll down for more!
The two mid-rise towers, De Zalmhaven II and III have topped out at the end of 2020, reaching their final height of 70 m. Since then, the construction has been advancing, and the residential complex has fully shaped up.
Once completed, the two mid-rise towers will comprise 196 apartments and 33 single-family homes and a parking garage topped off with a shared roof garden.
De Zalmhaven is developed by AM & Amvest on a site adjacent to the former eponymous port in the centre of Rotterdam, comprising 485 high-quality apartments spread over a complex with three towers. BAM Bouw en Techniek – Grote Projecten is in charge of the construction and expects to deliver the first homes in 2022.
Yesterday, 2 June 2021, marked the official start of construction on SPOT Amsterdam, a mixed residential and office district in the middle of Amstel III.
KAAN Architecten has designed the masterplan for SPOT with approximately 1090 new homes, 13,000m² of office space, 4000m² for other amenities and an estimated 2500 new residents. Construction kicked off on a subdivision of the masterplan, named Kavel Y, which includes projects designed by Klunder Architecten, DOOR Architecten and Moederscheimmoonen Architecten.
SPOTis a part of a larger area development for the Amstel-III area developed by COD, DUQER and Amvest, and realized by Pleijsier Bouwgroep.
MINUTES is a series of short films directed by talented international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects designed by KAAN Architecten. A dedicated web platform for the series just went live today. Scroll down to explore!
First floated as a concept in 2017, MINUTES is now a fully-fledged cinematic oeuvre consisting of 12 short films, each less than 10 minutes long. Within the framework of this unique exploratory initiative, commissioned filmmakers were given creative freedom to realise their vision of our projects. Using narrative, reference and symbolism, each film takes a different approach in portraying how architecture interacts with the world.
A crowning achievement of the four-year-long research and creative collaboration is the launch of the eponymous web platform MINUTES where all 12 movies will be periodically released throughout the year and freely accessible worldwide.
To mark the launch, the movie Forensic by Dutch director Chris de Krijger will be made available for viewing as the first one in the series. Set in the Netherlands Forensic Institute in The Hague, Forensic links the architecture to the painstakingly meticulous research being performed within the building’s walls.
Photographer Dominique Panhuysen has completed her series on the construction of the Amsterdam Courthouse. To mark the occasion, a compilation of her photography periodicals has been published. Scroll down for a sneak peek!
De Nieuwe Rechtbank Amsterdam comprises eight photo reports Panhuysen made over the period of 4 years. Each issue spans several months and covers the Courthouse’s construction milestones, such as the demolition of the old judicial complex and topping out of the new building.
The book is a testimony to the efforts of everyone involved in the demanding building process, from engineers and architects to construction workers.
Since 2017, we have explored the dialogue between cinema and architecture by commissioning different international filmmakers to portray our projects. The result is the MINUTESseries, which consists of twelve signature short films.
The BARQ festival is a perfect occasion to showcase MINUTESas it celebrates its first edition from May 11 to 16, 2021. It will take place in Barcelona live and online through the Filmin platform for all of Spain.
The festival includes an extensive program with films from around the world and various parallel activities. It is a cinematographic event that highlights films innovatively showing current issues related to architecture such as urban activism, politics, the economy, the environment, cultural and social diversity, access to housing or equal rights.
Galeries Modernes is located in the very centre of Rotterdam, where an interesting mix of contemporary architecture and post-war buildings meet. The demolition work is almost completed: the interiors and facades have been removed, so the original concrete structure designed by Van den Broek en Bakema in 1957 is now clearly visible.
Our design proposal introduces an all-sided facade design in which there is no front nor back. The facade located on Grotekerkplein has always served as an expedition area for the old department store; soon the hotel’s entrance will be located here. Three retail spaces will open up on the ground floor towards Hoogstraat, framed by a 4.2 meters high glass facade.
The basement will be made accessible again. The largest surface will be rented out as retail space, while a smaller area will be dedicated to the hotel’s bicycle parking facilities. The old department store stairs and elevators’ hatches are currently being closed.
The 180 rooms of the hotel are equally distributed on the upper floors, positioned along the outer walls and the inner patio, a new feature for the renovated building. Large sections of building floors, from the first floor up to the roof terrace, are being demolished to make room for this wide patio that will bring light, air, and greenery into the building. The historical Laurenskerk will be clearly visible from the multiple lookouts offered by Galeries Modernes, creating spectacular views.
Photographer Sebastian van Damme brings another photo report from the construction site of De Zalmhaven. Scroll down for more!
The two mid-rise towers, De Zalmhaven II and III have topped out at the end of 2020, reaching their final height of 70 m. Since then, the construction has been advancing, and the residential complex is fully shaping up.
Taking place during the pandemic, the uninterrupted construction of De Zalmhaven is an impressive achievement and a testament to great planning and teamwork. Once completed, the two mid-rise towers will comprise 196 apartments and 33 single-family homes and a parking garage topped off with a shared roof garden.
De Zalmhaven is developed by AM& Amveston a site adjacent to the former eponymous port in the centre of Rotterdam, comprising 485 high-quality apartments spread over a complex with three towers. BAM Bouw en Techniek – Grote Projecten is in charge of the construction and expects to deliver the first homes in 2022.
We are extremely proud to introduce MINUTES – a series of short films made by international filmmakers portraying a selection of projects designed by KAAN Architecten. Join us at ’12 Ways to Film a Building’ – the series launch event organized in collaboration with Het Nieuwe Instituut and their Thursday Night Live event series. More info below!
Every building tells a story
Rooted in the essential belief that Every building tells a story, in 2017, we started long-term research and collaboration with a group of incredibly talented international filmmakers. Their brand new perception yielded impressive and diverse visual storytelling about the projects we (thought we) knew for years.
Traditional architecture representation methods immortalize a building in time, freezing it in a perfect shape and light. What happens when we introduce a new factor to architectural communication?
We decided to play with ‘time’ and explore the possibilities given by film to understand and communicate what we build, to display a living building, a context in motion and never static. As anything in architecture does, this process took time, but it opened up our eyes to a new dimension of our work.
This research has been 4 years in the making and has yielded 12 short films, which we are excited to share with you. We sincerely hope this can be the start of an extended discussion about the buildings surrounding us, their role in society, and our relationship with them. Follow MINUTES!
Join us at the MINUTES launch
’12 Ways to Film a Building’ is the first of several introductory events about the MINUTES series. Organized in collaboration with Het Nieuwe Instituut as a part of their Thursday Night Live! Series, the online event, will take place on April 8, at 19.30.
The launch is hosted by Brendan Cormier, the Senior Curator of Exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, who will introduce MINUTES and animate a discussion with the filmmakers who took part in the project. He will bring his experience of commissioning film for major exhibitions to add a new dimension of understanding for the viewer.
Along with 10 other nominees, Amsterdam Courthouse is in the running for the ‘Gouden A.A.P.’ organized by the ARCAM (Architectuur Centrum Amsterdam). The prize focuses on highlighting the best building production in the city and aims to stimulate a public debate about Amsterdam architecture.
The ‘Gouden A.A.P.’ 2021 will be awarded to the architect and client of the building that, according to a professional jury and a public jury, is regarded as the best of all construction projects completed within the municipal boundaries of Amsterdam in 2020. Check out the full list of nominees here.
This year’s professional jury consists of Merel Pit (editor-in-chief De Architect), Milad Pallesh (architect and founder of Studio Pallesh) and Songül Mutluer (Alderman for Housing and Construction Zaanstad and candidate for the Lower House for the PvdA).
The professional and public award will be announced during the festive presentation in the Trippenhuis complex – last year’s winner – on Thursday afternoon, May 28, 2021.
Belgian fashion designer Christian Wijnants showcased his Fall Winter 2021 collection in the newly renovated Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
Antwerp Fashion Academy alumni, Wijnants credits the museum and its extensive art collection as his source of inspiration during his study years so the opportunity to present his work among the colourful historic halls of KMSKA was a unique occasion.
Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Hauts-De-France in Lille and New Amsterdam Courthouse in the Netherlands have received nominations for the 2022 EU Mies van der Rohe Award.
Both projects act as prominent landmarks in rapidly developing areas of their respective cities – NACH as the biggest Dutch court in the flourishing Zuidas district; and CMA as a port of call for local trade activity and a bastion at the entrance to Lille.
Photograph by Sebastian van Damme
The geometry and transparency of Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat embrace the nature, reinforcing the link between north and south and opening the fabric to the botanical gardens north of the site. Spreading over three floors, CMA houses offices for the local and regional Chamber of Trades and Crafts and the associated training school.
Photograph by Sebastian van Damme
In the new Amsterdam Courthouse, the open structure of the architecture offers views over the city for both employees and visitors, and the opportunity to engage with the building for passers-by. The courthouse is exemplary in its efficiency, like the organization itself, and is part of the daily life surrounding it.
Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat has been designed in collaboration with Pranlas-Descours architect & associates. Amsterdam Courthouse is a joint venture of the NACH consortium which besides KAAN Architecten includes Macquarie Capital, ABT, DVP, Heijmans and Facilicom.
The renovation of the museum takes time. The completion of the renovation and extension of the museum is certainly an important milestone. However, there are other important goals to reach before the museum will be able to open its doors to the public. These include: the renovation of the offices, operational testing of the climate system, scenography, the museum garden, moving in the artworks and the creation of a new art mosaic in the entrance. As such, the museum is not able to communicate an opening date at this time. We invite you to visit the museum’s official website (www.kmska.be/verbouwing) for more information about the museum’s upcoming developments.
As the Rotterdam city centre is undergoing significant densification, the demand for high-rise is consequently growing. In light of this tendency, KAAN Architecten, together with Manhave and VORM, has developed a vision for a 200m tower with a publicly connected and locally integrated plinth with approximately 400 rental apartments and commercial facilities, on the former Lumière location in central Rotterdam.
The Lumière project is positioned between a great diversity of city axes with variations in height and program – Weena versus Kruiskade, and Karel Doormanstraat versus Lijnbaan. To bridge that scale, the relatively low plinth will connect to the characteristic ‘Rotterdamse Laag’ and provide access to the semi-public interior spaces, while keeping the protected buildings of the Lijnbaan ensemble intact. The tower will rise above the plinth with slight setbacks.
Lumière will provide a qualitative impulse by adding a combination of housing, shopping, working and recreation. Commercial functions and facilities will occupy the ground floor, along with a large atrium at the foot of the tower that gives entrance to the hotel and apartments. The inner court will be transformed into a working environment with offices and other amenities, with green terraces running along the courtyard and up the tower via the setbacks.
After having established the conditions of the project in collaboration with the Municipality of Rotterdam, the design will be further developed in the coming year. Realization of Lumière is going to be a significant step in the development and the desired densification of the city centre bringing a diversity of the qualitative programme that is in line with the metropolitan ambition of Rotterdam.
Today marks a milestone in the construction of De Zalmhaven, as the second of the two mid rise towers designed by KAAN Architecten reaches its highest point. Now both De Zalmhaven II and III are at their final height of 70 m.
Taking place during the pandemic, the uninterrupted construction of De Zalmhaven is an impressive achievement and a testament to great planning and teamwork. Once completed, the two mid-rise towers will comprise 196 apartments and 33 single-family homes, as well as a parking garage topped off with a shared roof garden. Get a glimpse of the construction process in the mesmerizing timelapse video by BAM Bouw en Techniek.
De Zalmhaven is developed by AM& Amveston a site adjacent to the former eponymous port in the center of Rotterdam comprising 485 high-quality apartments spread over a complex with three towers. BAM Bouw en Techniek – Grote Projecten is in charge of the construction and is expecting to deliver the first homes in 2022.
As the construction of the New Amsterdam Courthouse is coming to an end, the artwork titled ‘Love or Generosity’ by American artist Nicole Eisenman will be installed on the entrance square on Friday, 27 November. Below we bring you the first look at the sculpture!
As the Zuidas area develops in the future, the public square of the New Amsterdam Courthouse will play a central role and should be accompanied by a work of art that underlines its landmark status to the public and refers to the judiciary itself. Over five meters tall, ‘Love or Generosity’ fits well with the new ten-storey courthouse, depicting a gatekeeper of the court: not a guard but a gentle figure radiating ease and comfort. Despite the height of the statue, the friendly attitude of the “gatekeeper” ensures that the statue does not deter visitors, but rather attracts and evokes curiosity.
The artist, Nicole Eisenman, is best known to the general (art) public for her figurative paintings in which she applies different styles, ranging from Renaissance painting to modern art. Since 2012, Eisenman has also established herself as a sculptor, exhibiting her work at the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial, among others. Her work deals with topical themes from contemporary society which she approaches with humour and love.
Alongside Eisenman’s sculpture, the New Amsterdam Courthouse will feature artworks by Jesse Wine and Femmy Otten in the garden and the courtrooms respectively, curated by arts advisor Esther Vonk. Commission of these pieces is a part of the percentage scheme for visual art in government buildings, which requires original artwork be commissioned for new or renovated governmental buildings that pertain to the Central Government Real Estate Agency. Due to future developments in the area around the court and Zuid station, the municipality of Amsterdam Zuidas and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts are additional partners in this assignment.
More information on the artwork can be found here.
NACH is a collaborative consortium consisting of Macquarie Capital, Abt, DVP, KAAN Architecten, Heijmans and Facilicom that is carrying out the design, construction, financing, maintenance and operation of the New Amsterdam Courthouse on behalf of the Central Government Real Estate Agency.
Earlier this week, French selection for the 2021 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe has been announced. Out of 75 applications received nation wide, the jury has chosen seven candidates, among which is the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Hauts-De-France in Lille.
The CMAis the winning entry of an international competition for Eurartisanat campus in Lille, won by KAAN Architecten together with PRANLAS-DESCOURS architect & associates. The building acts as hub for both the local and regional Chamber of Trades and Crafts, and the associated training schools previously scattered throughout the historic city centre of Lille.
As urbanization continues to increase all over the world, cities are rapidly expanding and planners are trying to predict future scenarios. This is especially the case with the city of Amsterdam, where urbanization, above all, means intensification and diversification. The current global pandemic has refuelled the ongoing discussion on healthy cities. Is high density the only possible model, are there any alternatives?
For centuries Amsterdam has been a living laboratory of large-scale urban development, starting with the 17th-century canals, to Berlage and Van Eesteren’s plans in the 20th, towards docklands and the ring, the actual fringe belt developments of today. All of these are characterized by strong guidance of the city and an innovative pioneering mentality where it comes to developing new housing typology.
As its historic core is made up by the UNESCO Heritage canal system, Amsterdam has very limited possibilities for interventions in its centre due to a lack of spatial resources and limiting regulations. The city has already boldly expanded towards former docklands and wastelands, shaping a historic central node surrounded by residential and business clusters. Especially the ring road around the centre is now the focal point for many developments. It has the advantage of the proximity of large means of infrastructure while at the same time breaching a gap between the centre and the outskirts.
Although no prediction can be completely future-proof, city planners and developers are seeking ways and ideas to ensure the city continues to flourish. This situation creates a platform for fruitful discussion and a vast playground for architectural intervention.
The Stack, visualization by Zes x Zes
Such a playground can be found in Overhoeks, which is located north of the city centre, along the river IJ. It is currently under development by Amvestwith both owner-occupied and private sector rental apartments. In this context, KAAN Architecten is designing a residential project named The Stack, comprised of two buildings connected with underground parking. The challenge was to translate and express the oxymoron of individuality and collectivity which are both seen as specific qualities in this kind of urban living. This was achieved by a refinement of the building contours and elongated balcony slabs to increase spaciousness and views while giving a feeling of privacy and seclusion. This facilitates the individual’s experience within a relaxed, green and healthy living environment.
To the west of Overhoeks, across the IJ, another old ship- and dockyard area is transforming. As the port activity was slowly abandoned, the area developed into a mix of residential and commercial properties, and the site was put under heritage protection of the UNESCO. Built in the early 60s, De Walvis (Dutch for ‘the whale’) is now the only remaining office building on Bickerseiland, and although modern at its time, the building now no longer complies with contemporary day workplace standards. KAAN Architecten was commissioned by the Maarsen Groep for a complete strip-down and renovation of the building. The emphasis was put on sustainable use and ergonomic qualities with a sense of beauty as an implicit demand, by bringing in more daylight, increasing interior heights and upgrading all installations to the highest standards including BREEAM Excellent certification. After a year of construction works, De Walvis has been delivered in Spring 2020, with tenants planning to move throughout the summer.
SPOT, visualization by PF Visual
One of the larger urban transformations in Amsterdam is taking place in the south-east part of the city. In this area, the SPOTproject originates from the question on how to redevelop the Hogehilweg area, characterized by a series of typical low density and monofunctional office blocks from the 1980s surrounded by a sprawl of parking lots. This neighbourhood will be transformed into a cosmopolitan mixed-use part of the city over the next few years. KAAN Architecten has designed a masterplan for the area that establishes different atmospheres simultaneously, creating both an intimate inner-city environment and an expanding metropolis, the village and the city in one.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Terminal, visualization by Filippo Bolognese
The rapid development of Amsterdam has already had a major impact on expanding the city’s infrastructure, as demonstrated by the new metro line opened in 2018, connecting North and South, either side reachable within 15 minutes. Additionally, architects and city planners have put forward plans to increase the capacity of public transport network by transforming stations and speeding up mobility.
The expansion was also required for the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to keep up the pace with the influx of passengers and the growth in aviation. As part of Schiphol’s 10-year expansion plan, KAAN Architecten took design lead in a collaboration with Estudio Lamela, ABT and Ineco (working collectively as KL AIR consortium) to plan, design and engineer the New Terminal at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The spatial organization of the new 130.000 m2 terminal, its functional and architectural design are boosting the existing facilities to update Schiphol to maintain its role as the leading European aviation hub.
New Amsterdam Courthouse, photograph by Sebastian van Damme
As a multicultural capital, with bustling trade and high quality of life, Amsterdam is attractive not only to visitors but also to global companies, who are choosing the city’s Metropolitan area as a place to establish their European headquarters. This has led to the creation of Zuid-as district, strategically located between Schiphol and Amsterdam city center, as a combination of both Dutch and international businesses and institutions.
Contributing to the flourishing of this district is the location of the New Amsterdam Courthouse, at the intersection of the Zuidas and Parnassusweg, replacing the previous judicial complex. As the largest courthouse in the country, the building is exemplary in its efficiency, like the organization itself, and is part of the daily life surrounding it. Commissioned for the new Courthouse design in 2016, KAAN Architecten is expecting to complete the building by the end of the year with the construction being in its final stages.
AMS 2050, visualization courtesy of Complex Projects
A city amid globalization is not only a challenge but can also be a breeding ground for knowledge. Initiated by Kees Kaan at the Faculty of Architecture at the Delft University of Technology, the Chair of Complex Projects states that it ‘investigates settlements around the world that are ambiguous in their development and embedded in the process of globalization.’ Students are encouraged to look critically at their surroundings; to gather, organize, and question the complex forces that ultimately manifest themselves into our built environment.
For two years, Complex Projects teamed up with AMS Institute, where Kaan serves as a Principal Investigator, and the municipality of Amsterdam, to focus on the theme AMSTERDAM 2050. The research-through-design process of documenting and analyzing the present urban conditions of the City of Amsterdam and investigating various trends directing future urban development resulted in design solutions and visualizations of the predicted development of these locations.
By using Amsterdam as a living laboratory, graduate students, researchers, and teachers have been exploring how these changes might affect the city, to provide input for the decision making of the redevelopment plans 2025-2050. If you want to know more about AMS 2050 research, please check out the dedicated publication.
AMS2050 Complex Projects Studio Graduation Show, photograph by Sebastian van Damme
KAAN Architecten continues to actively help define and construct a new image of the city through a series of recent projects ranging in scale and function, from residential buildings to masterplans, public institutions and international transportation hubs. Located in all current hot spots of expansion, these projects have provided KAAN Architecten with a profound understanding of the city’s development. The office’s mission for contemporary Amsterdam aims to give people a sustainable comfort by offering high quality and comprehensible architecture.
On a recent visit to the De Zalmhaven building site, photographer Sebastian van Damme captured the ongoing construction progress. Explore the full photo report below!
The two mid-rise towers designed by KAAN Architecten are each 70 metres tall, sprouting from a solid plinth with clearly marked entrances.
The footprint of each tower is a split and shifted square, creating more corners and an interesting range of apartments in differing sizes, all with corner windows offering astounding views.
The plinth includes family houses with rooftop gardens and has a direct relationship with the surroundings at ground level.
De Zalmhaven is developed by AM & Amvest on a site adjacent to the former eponymous port in the center of Rotterdam combining both urban and local scales. Construction on the residential complex started nearly two years ago and is expected to be completed in 2021.
Kees Kaan was interviewed as a part of Planet Netherlands, an online exhibition promoted by the Embassy and the General Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Italy in partnership with The Architecture Player.
In the interview with Marco Brizzi, Kaan discusses the renovated Provinciehuis of North-Brabant as well as other previously realized works, the consideration of the role of the masters and how their built works transmit knowledge. The discussion serves as an introduction to the short movie ‘Today’ directed by Marcel Ijzerman, which is a included in the ‘Planet Netherlands’ video series about the last twenty years of Dutch architecture. Between 22 June and 15 August 2020, eight videos and short films will be released as a part of the series, including the works of Dok Architecten, MVRDV, Next Architects, Maurice Nio, OMA/AMO, UNStudio, and Wiel Arets Architects.
On her recent visit to the Paleis Het Loo construction site, photographer Dominique Panhuysen captured the instances of the ongoing renovation and extension. Her latest report brings us inside the rapidly progressing Bassecourt of the museum.
In the last months, the walls of the underground facilities have been fully set up and covered by a steel construction. A circular pond will cover the Bassecourt and its circular outline is already showing.
The seventh issue of the photo series by photographer Dominique Panhuysen has been published. The series follows the New Amsterdam Courthouse construction site and building process.
This edition covers the period from November 2019 to May 2020. Even though halfway through this period distancing measures were employed, the Courthouse construction has been steadily progressing.
The main focus has been on closing up the facades and working on the interior finishing. Glass and steel facade covers have been put in place, while natural stone and green walls were installed on the inside. The monumental steel staircase has also been hung in the central office void.
KAAN Architecten is undertaking works for the New Amsterdam Courthouse as part of a consortium which includes Macquarie Corporate Holdings Ltd., ABT, DVP, Heijmans and Facilicom.
Explore the design hereor browse the full photo report here.
French architectural magazine d’architectures is organizing the second edition of the Prix d’architectures, which seeks to reward the best built projects in France over the last year. Among the 30 nominees is the Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Hauts-De-France by KAAN Architecten and PRANLAS-DESCOURS architect & associates in Lille.
The winner will be announced on September 17, 2020 at the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris. In the meantime, see the full list of nominees here or explore our nominated project here.
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 modular facades will consist of over 800 prefab concrete elements altogether, which are currently in prototype phase. As the construction of the three buildings is extremely time sensitive, the facade design had to take into account short handling and mounting times.
These modules are the largest prefab concrete elements KAAN Architecten has designed as of yet. Their size implies less structural joints and plays an essential role in making them not only cost effective, but time efficient. In this way, the crane moves faster and completes the mounting in less time, considering the number of facade elements required for the three buildings.
The prefab panels are made out of self-compacting concrete and produced by Hemmerlein.
In the last months, countries all over the world have been collectively taking stock of their healthcare infrastructures, both spatial resources for therapeutic care, but also centres for research and prevention. Within The Netherlands, such a place is the BSL3 laboratory (Bio Safety Laboratory level 3) – a state of the art addition to the Erasmus MC complex in Rotterdam designed by KAAN Architecten.
The video below explores the BSL3 as a workspace designated to the research of infectious diseases threatening public health. Even after 6 years since its completion, it is a unique space since there are less than a hundred of these type of laboratories worldwide and BSL3 is currently the only one of this size in The Netherlands, working closely with research partners and public health authorities.
Past Sunday, 21 June, marked the second year since the official opening of Utopia Library and Academy for Performing Arts in Aalst.
The opening festivities in 2018 spanned 4 days and attracted more than 25 000 visitors who participated in concerts, workshops and dance performances. Since the grand opening, Utopia has been established as a cultural landmark of the city of Aalst, thriving on the inextricable link with its citizens and a delicate mixture of seemingly opposite programs it comprises.
Below we look back at the atmosphere of the opening weekend captured by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti.
Photographer Toon Grobet takes us through the historical and new museum spaces of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, capturing the soon-to-be finished interiors of the exhibition halls. Take a look at the latest update from the construction site of KMSKA.
The inside of the historical museum has been brought back to its original look by reinstating bright wall colours, mosaic floors and wall trimmings, while a grand staircase has been installed at the entrance.
Hidden in the heart of the old building, a new vertical museum arises, offering a contrasting spatial experience. Large and small exhibition halls, hidden rooms, horizontal and vertical sightlines and varying gradations of daylight, the new extension charts a route full of surprising experiences.
Photographer Dominique Panhuysen continues her periodical visits to the Paleis Het Loo construction site. In the latest photo report, she takes us through the rapidly progressing Bassecourt – the underground entrance facility of the museum.
The concrete structure of the underground extension is already showing outlines of the grand foyer and the exposition rooms.
The steel structure covering these spaces is also being put in place, and will later be covered by glass surfaces and a pond.
Meanwhile, the monumental facades of the side wings and the Corps de Logis are currently being supported by temporary construction that enables the underground connection with the Bassecourt facilities.
After a year of renovation, De Walvis office building in Amsterdam has been delivered, and tenants are ready to move in. Below we bring you a first look at the completed building, meanwhile, the full project release will follow later this year.
De Walvis is the only remaining office building on Bickerseiland in Amsterdam. Although modern at its time, the building no longer complied with contemporary workplace standards. The complete strip down and renovation brought in more daylight, increased interior heights and upgraded all installations to the highest standards. By topping up the building, the future users will be welcomed by an even better view of the area. Meanwhile, redesign of the ground floor will bring life to this historic site.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 hereor click hereto explore our design.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
In February photographer Inga Powilleit visited our office to capture a typical working day in our Rotterdam headquarter. Although we are currently working remotely, we look back fondly at our daily office routine and hope to return to it as soon as circumstances allow it.
Powilleit describes her process as concentrated observation and calmness, a waiting game of sorts for the right opportunity to arise even in the most complex of situations. In this way she captures the essence of her subject.
A day at De Bank is precisely such a complex situation, comprising a variety of dynamics. Busy periods of activity, team meetings and presentations are interspersed with moments of quiet contemplation and individual work. Powilleit welcomes this chaos, claiming: “I enjoy working when people no longer notice my presence, when I can really capture them in their own environment and concentration.”
All of this takes place in a photogenic space flooded with daylight coming in from both sides, with long corridors and passages allowing Powilleit to experiment with composition. Working, meeting and leisure spaces are all effectively connected, producing a variety of different shots ranging from still lifes to overviews.
The renovation and reconstruction of Paleis Het Loo started over two years ago. Within that time extensive groundwork made room for the new underground entrance of the museum – the Bassecourt. On her recent visit, photographer Dominique Panhuysen captured the instances from the ongoing construction.
During the past year major progress has been made in the Bassecourt, which was excavated to make room for the new entrance facilities, the Grand Foyer and several exhibition spaces.
The deepest point of the construction pit has been reached and concrete was poured and cured underwater to make sure the structure is without tears or leaks. Following that process, first walls of the underground facilities have been raised.
On the inside, the palace has been undergoing operations for removing asbestos and is now asbestos free; well ahead of the governmental requirements. The interior has been carefully dismantled in order to preserve the original elements from the 1600s to remove the dangerous material that was placed in the palace during the 1970s. Once the renovation and removal of asbestos are finished, all the pieces will be put back in place.
Collaboration and teamwork are key aspects of our daily work in architecture. While the circumstances of society change by the minute, KAAN Architecten’s workflow continues remotely to serve our clients and partners, safeguarding our fellow citizens’ and employees’ health and safety.
By means of our digital platform, the integral processes concerning design, meetings, presentations and communication are maintained without reservations. Our teams are active and can be contacted during office hours through the usual communication channels.
On behalf of the team, KAAN Architecten sends its warmest regards for your health and safety. Remain responsible and vigilant for the benefit of your community.
Following an international competition, the University of Groningen (UG) awarded KAAN Architecten as the winning entry for the design of a new Educational Centre for the faculties of Medical Sciences and Science & Engineering, located just outside the historical city centre.
In the past, the gradual expansion of the campus created a sprawling network of buildings with complex internal relations. The new Education Centre will re-establish the flows and clearly define the public space, becoming a central accessible core for the University and functioning as the main entrance for the Healthy Ageing Campus. The complex will rise between the ERIBA building, the Faculty of Medical Science complex and the new Proton Therapy Centre of the University Medical Center Groningen, joining a cluster of existing structures with shared facilities that provide access to the clinic, research facilities and companies.
“Educational buildings are always an exciting architectural challenge, and we couldn’t be more delighted to bring our concept to life. The new centre will bring fresh identity to this part of the campus while connecting and reinforcing the surrounding buildings.” says KAAN Architecten founding partner Vincent Panhuysen. Within its 11,000 m2 of surface, the new Education Centre will provide a sustainable, open and dynamic space for students. The connections with the existing buildings are gently integrated in the design, to highlight the Centre’s bonding purpose for the whole campus.
The Centre will provide lecture halls, libraries, classrooms, project rooms, education square, patios, a restaurant, an underground bicycle parking and some flexible workplaces that teachers can use between class hours. Busier and quietest facilities will be smartly arranged through a rational structure, providing adequate working and leisure environments for the students, with respect for their work and concentration, while still offering generous natural light and green spaces. Brick, wood and concrete will be the main materials used in the construction of the Centre, providing a robust yet friendly study environment.
The building will host up to 2.000 employees and students, with its facilities being highly flexible and adaptable to any possible future changes in the organization of the Campus. The winning competition team is composed by KAAN Architecten (architect), Sweegers en De Bruijn (installation advisor), ABT (sustainability), Peutz (building physics consultants).
The full project will be released soon. In the meantime, find out more information here.
This January marked the two year anniversary of starting the renovation and extension of Paleis Het Loo. During the past year, major progress has been made in the Bassecourt, which was excavated to make room for the new entrance facilities and exhibition spaces.
The deepest point of the construction pit has been reached and concrete was poured and cured underwater to make sure the structure is without tears or leaks. Following that process, first walls of the underground facilities have been raised.
Watch below the recap of the past two years, or click here to keep up with the ongoing video series following the construction progress.
Vast cultivated landscape surrounding the Crematorium Siesegem in Aalst is captured in mesmerizing drone photos by Marcel IJzerman.
Nestled in the landscape designed by Erik Dhont, the crematorium building is a comforting sequence of spaces in symbiotic relationship with its surroundings. Its calm, easily readable environment and tranquil landscape merge together to emanate genuine serenity. This cohesive relationship between the building and the nature is essential, and it became even stronger when the final form of the new landscape expressed its full potential after a few seasons.
Trees and shrubs line the perimeter while the crematorium is situated in the middle, with a footprint of 74 by 74 meters. The surrounding greenery is envisioned as an extension of the crematorium space and is an important part of the funeral ceremony.
Upon arrival, undulating hills emerge from the ground among the parking areas, while a dynamic landscape spreads to the east articulated by natural flora development on the sloping topography. The hills for scattering the ashes and the urn garden rise along the northern facade, bringing the landscape into the ceremonial proceedings.
The sixth issue of the photo series by photographer Dominique Panhuysen has been published. The series follows the New Amsterdam Courthouse construction site and building process.
This latest edition chronicles June throughout October 2019 during which the highest point of the building has been reached. Meanwhile, the facade glazing is being mounted, nearly closing up the building. On the inside rough finishes have been put in, as well as natural stone wall cladding.
KAAN Architecten is undertaking works for the New Amsterdam Courthouse as part of a consortium which includes Macquarie Corporate Holdings Ltd., ABT, DVP, Heijmans and Facilicom.
Explore the design hereor browse the full photo report here.
Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Hauts-De-France has been nominated for the prestigious Équerre d’Argent award in the category Activities.
Out of over 200 applications, the jury comprised of editors of Le Moniteur and AMC nominated 20 projects, divided into five categories. On Monday, 25 November at the Arab World Institute in Paris, each nominated project will be presented to the jury and the winner of each category will be announced.
Paris La Défense has appointed five international offices to compete in reimagining of the vast space beneath the Esplanade of Axe historique, including the iconic ‘la Cathedrale’ located in the heart of the La Défense business district.
Through a competitive dialogue process, Paris La Défense intends to enhance the 20,000 m² of underground space beneath the district. The competing firms will have several months to propose both a long-term vision necessary for the completion of this complex project, as well as more immediate first interventions to reveal these hidden spaces.
Photography by Cyrille Weiner
At the end of the dialogue in early 2020, Paris La Défense will choose the team that will make ‘la Cathedrale’ and its contiguous volumes a real urban experience, unusual and original, driven by its aesthetic DNA and an atypical programmatic ambition.
Historically, the platform of Paris La Défense was designed to separate the functions for the users of the district from technical or logistical purposes, leaving thousands of square meters unexploited with ceiling heights often reaching up to 15 meters.
Among more than 200 entries, Institut des Sciences Moléculaires d’Orsay is one of 10 projects awarded the Trophée béton – a prize that distinguishes architectural achievements where concrete plays a key role; honouring architects, clients and structural and prefabrication companies.
Robust and elegant, while essentially open in character, ISMO building is distinguished by a harmonic coexistence of nature and scientific research. It unites two architecturally expressed realms, housing theoretical and practical research, into a single entity.
Consistent facade treatment unifies complementing approaches and activities that coexist within the institution. Sturdily stacked, smooth, pre-fab concrete posts and lintels protrude 80cm from the facade shading the interior from the sun.
Yesterday’s festive ceremony at the National Field of Honour marked the beginning of construction on the multifunctional Loenen Pavilion.
KAAN Architecten was commissioned by The Netherlands War Graves Foundation to design a new multifunctional memorial and education centre at the National Field of Honour in Loenen. The main focus of the centre will be to tell stories about Dutch war victims, the efforts of Dutch people during World War II and current international peace missions.
The pavilion will act as a connecting element between the new National Veterans Cemetery and the existing Field of Honour. The landscape, originally designed in 1949 by garden and landscape architect D. Haspels and extended by Karres + Brands, is characterised by the contrast between open spaces and the dense forest.
The rich woods, existing routes and the scenic qualities of this exceptional site have been used to underline the unifying role of the building.
The completion of the project and the official opening are set for next year. Explore the full project here.
Utopia Library and Academy for Performing Arts in Aalst will be open to the public as a part of the Flemish Day of Architecture (Dag van de Architectuur). This Sunday, 22 September from 13.00-17.00h, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the vibrant new landmark in the city.
Day of Architecture is just one of many events taking place during the week long Festival of Architecture from 21 – 27 September. Organized by the Flemish Architecture Institute, the festival focuses on the quality of the designed space as the result of an open conversation in which designers, policy makers and residents meet. The program builds a bridge between all these actors and encourages everyone to think about a well-designed environment and how they can contribute to it.