On 20 October, Kees Kaan is participating in the ‘Typology Talks: Learning Landscapes’ conference organized by Studio Kempe Thill. Scroll down to find out how to participate!
Teaching and research in higher education are currently subject to profound social and educational change. Globalisation, digital work, the rapid development of new technologies, international competitive pressure between universities and the qualities of university locations are just a few aspects that play a decisive role in this. In their first academic year as professors at Leibniz University Hannover, André Kempe and Oliver Thill deal with the radically changing conditions in the educational landscape. What influence do factors such as the particular ideal of social education, the context and location or the spatial and typological organisation of the objects have on their success or failure?
Photograph by Simone Bossi
The “Learning Landscapes” conference questions the typology of buildings for education and explores the possibility of an optimal building organisation, internal logistics, spatial backbone, flexible structure, compactness and energy performance. Considering his experience in architectural practice and academia, Kees Kaan will offer his views on the evolving learning landscapes both as an architect and a teacher. He will be joined by Piet Eckert (E2A Architects), Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara (Grafton Architects).
Tune in on 20 October, 15.30 h, when the conference will be streamed on the YouTube channel of the LUH Faculty of Architecture and Landscape.
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.
On 28 September 2021, Pakhuis de Zwijger will host a MINUTES event titled ‘Building Stories – Architecture on Film’.
The event will delve into the social impact of architectural communication with participating filmmakers and invited guests by analyzing three completely different approaches to portraying architecture.
How can filmmaking generate new ways of communicating the built environment? Whether it is bringing the building to life with speculative scenarios, or portraying it in its perceived idleness, cinema appears to be the right contemporary medium to capture something so dynamic and ever-changing as the architecture that surrounds us.
Save the date by making a reservation at the link. More info to follow!
In the meantime, follow MINUTES on Instagramfor the latest updates and visit the websiteto watch the released movies.
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.
This June marks the Rotterdam Architecture Month celebrating the diverse and unique architecture of the city. KAAN Architecten is glad to be participating with three diverse events. Scroll down for more!
On Friday, 25 June, Dikkie Scipio will give a closing lecture recapping the Architecture month, and taking us along on a personal story related to her professional experience, dreams and ideas for the city. The lecture will take place at 20.00h in the City garage Kruisplein. To book your ticket, follow the link.
The next day, on Saturday, June 26th, KAAN Architecten will open the doors of its office space to the public with guided tours taking place at De Bank every hour between 11.00 until 17.00 (the last visit starts at 16:00). For more information on booking your tour – click here.
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.
On April 6, 2021, Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Nancy will host an online lecture by Kees Kaan titled ‘Le Quotidien – Every day the Everyday’
Read the full statement and join the lecture at the link below!
“Architecture should aspire and reach out for the better; there is no doubt in my mind about that.
Society changes permanently, which reflects in our built environment and, hence, in architecture too. In that sense, we could argue that architecture is the protagonist of change. However, this begs the question: is architecture a product of change or its driver?
The start of an architectural venture is often an initiative fuelled by the zeitgeist. Yet, its result arrives years later as a loud booming echo of the timely spark that caused it. Architecture is slow by nature and, as such, not suitable to be the protagonist of change, but rather a witness after the fact.
Every project has a reason why it started in the first place, often articulated as a question for which an answer is solicited. This question is explained in a brief that contains urban conditions, requirements, specifications, etc. However, the particular issue that sparked the process is likely to have disappeared or became less urgent once the project is finished. The architectural project tends to answer questions from the past. As a result, architects seem to design for the wrong question. So how can we find the right answer?
Every day we work on projects for the everyday life of people. Our designs become settings for wide ranges of different activities. The power of architecture is to generate settings that make every day feel remarkable and uplifting, comfortable and emancipated. Like good food, a great book, or any work of art can do. Architecture cannot change a life, but it can upgrade the quality of the everyday. This is not achieved by being extravagant or extraordinary, but by being appropriate and good, functional and beautiful, generous and sustainable.
Whether urban or rural, architecture always navigates the boundaries of different domains, from the very private to the very public. Architecture has the potential to put these domains in perspective, to ‘build’ relations. That is the very objective of architecture.
Architectural innovation serves no purpose unless a proper balance between private interest and common values is established. With this lecture, I will critically reflect on the contextual narrative as the driver of the architectural concept that generates a self-evident relation between the city, building, construction, and detail as well as between shared and individual interests or pleasures.
The question of beautification will be used as a vehicle to explore this statement.”
To join the lecture on April 6 at 18.00, follow the linkhere.
The lecture will be given partially in French and English.
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.
In honour of International Women’s Day, we interviewed the leading ladies of KAAN Architecten – the founding partner Dikkie Scipio, and office directors Marylene Gallon (Paris) and Renata Gilio (São Paulo). Read on for a candid talk on the personal and professional challenges of the past year, technology, sustainability and predictions for the post-pandemic future.
To start us off, can you reflect on what the past year has been like for you personally and/or professionally?
RG: I think for me personally and professionally, it’s the year that it really hit me what it means to run an office, to understand that there are families that depend on the salary they’re making in this office. And I’m talking only about our office here in São Paulo, 7 people. But it is 7 families, and it was hard.
So in the first few months, it was just about understanding which projects are going to get cancelled, which ones are going to continue, and which ones are going to be paid.
We got very lucky that the housing market exploded in Brazil. People living in small apartments realized they wanted bigger houses, better living conditions, and they want them now. Ultimately we managed to secure new projects to tide us over. And now, as we’re slowly seeing the end of this, people are making more plans for the future. The institutional, urban, cultural projects we’ve had are also starting up again, everything is coming together.
Personally, of course, it was quite difficult being home. I have two small children, ages 5 and 7, and they’ve just learned how to read and write. Actually, WE had to teach them how to read and write while keeping up with our jobs. And that was really, really tough. But of course, it does bring you together as a family, you start being a little community, and yeah, in the end, it was OK.
What about you Marylene? We’ve checked in with you in an earlier interview about how you’re handling lockdown…
MG:That interview was in May last year, so it was a different time, right? Pre-pandemic we were already quite used to working remotely with the Rotterdam office, so the most noticeable change was in the comfort level – no more being in the office space and all the comfort that comes with that.
When the lockdown happened in March, we mainly lost time adapting, negotiating, communicating. So, we asked for time to be able to succeed in the projects we were doing. And we did, with a small delay – if you consider the usual duration of projects. Turns out decisions take more time, not actions.
After that, we focused on our Parisian office, setting up a proper branch and a new space in Le Marais. It was important to go on with this project. We got the keys to the new office space in October, on the day of the second French lockdown!
Realistically, in the months after that interview in May, we saw everything (in France) stop. No tenders or competitions; projects put on hold. November and December were particularly stressful, without perspective. But now, from January I see things starting up again. And I am optimistic.
With this crisis, I can see minds changing. What we struggled to explain before, is now easier to understand – the need for accessibility, light, quality of space, robustness, steadiness, discussions of sustainability versus greening. There is a step forward, maybe not a big one, but things are slowly changing. And now that it is a more competitive market, Architecture is back on the plate. It may turn out to be a good crisis. (laughs)
DS: Wow, Marylene! I need to jump on this for sure. It’s quite interesting what you say about the quality of space, that it suddenly counts again. Because we’ve struggled before to get that point across.
We set up a research project with the office and with the university in Münster where I teach. It was a survey at first, called ‘Your home is your shelter’. We had this idea to ask people about the comfort and quality of their homes since it’s such a rare occasion they’re spending so much time enclosed. And some answers were quite obvious. People with children and families expressed their desire to have an outdoor space, a garden, a balcony…But as most participants were young students, they said they’d like to have more functionally non-determined spaces. Spaces that are more flexible and allow for transformations beyond just 4 white walls, a floor and a ceiling. And this is something very difficult to explain to a client. So hearing you say that you feel clients are more inclined to a dialogue about the quality of space is something I welcome.
Excerpt of the ‘Your home is your shelter’ survey
RG: For sure, I think it’s just a given that crisis is a huge opportunity for quality to come back, right? When the economies are booming, people want to build and they want to build fast and make a profit, there is often no time or space for quality. But when you’re in a big crisis like this, you’ve got to have something special, otherwise, you’re not going to be able to sell it. It’s pretty simple.
And what you said Dikkie is just so interesting, because what the people in your research want is not more spaces but more experiences, right? They’re lacking experiences.
And this is a word that keeps appearing in most conversations I have lately, with engineers, reporters, clients, developers, investors…This new generation is focused much more on experiences than on spaces.
DS: Yes, that was already a thing before the crisis, but now even more. I mean, their world is on their computer right now. So there is a strange disconnection between the experience of the mind, the body and space. Right?
RG: Yeah, and it’s all so much more subjective…
DS: I might be falsely optimistic here, but I really hope that this crisis and the rising demand for quality can improve the spaces we design. Not only with materials, but with sound, touch, all these different things you can experience. This is something really difficult to teach. I have to tell my students to step away from the screen and go touch the walls of their rooms, their chairs and so on… Especially now…
Speaking of, Dikkie and Marylene, you are both teaching in different architecture schools. What has that experience been like during the past year?<