07 2021
July 2021
26/07 2021

‘Neon Shadow’ at KMSKA

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.

Photographs by Ronald Stoops for Walter Van Beirendonck SS2022.

Read the full interview with the designer here.

22/07 2021

Glass roof tops off Paleis Het Loo extension

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Historical grass parterres have been replaced by the four Bassecour ponds above the underground extension and will be materialised in glass and natural stone.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.

Keep an eye on our website or follow the official Paleis Het Loo video channel for more updates on the construction progress. In the meantime, explore the full project here.

Photographs by Dominique Panhuysen.


12/07 2021

‘Utopia’ released on the MINUTES platform

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. Utopia is 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 link to check out the photos from the screening.

Visit MINUTES website to discover more information about directors, films and architectural projects. To keep up to date with all upcoming events, online lectures and film releases related to the series, subscribe to the newsletter

22/06 2021

New design for the Campina factory redevelopment

The former Campina milk factory premises in Eindhoven will be redeveloped into a mixed-use complex, intended as the beating heart of this new part of the city.

Named De Caai, the project is developed by BPD in collaboration with Studioninedots and DELVA Landscape Architects.

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.

18/06 2021

KMSKA wins European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention

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.

Watch the full award ceremony at the link below!

14/06 2021

‘Crafted’ released on the MINUTES platform

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.

Following releases include ‘Utopia’ by Joana Colomar and ‘To Become One’ by Romain Loiseau & Tristan Soreau in July and August 2021, respectively.

Watch ‘Crafted’, and for more information about the short films, directors and architectural projects, visit the MINUTES website and Instagram page. To keep up to date with all upcoming events, online lectures and film releases related to the series, subscribe to the newsletter.


11/06 2021

De Zalmhaven shapes up

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.

Photographs by Sebastian van Damme.

08/06 2021

KAAN Architecten to participate in the Rotterdam Architecture Month

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.

That same Saturday at 19:00, we will be screening a part of the MINUTES series in a joint event with Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR), Galerie de Jaloezie, and Roffa Mon Amour. Participating directors include Dorian van de Rijk (Ruling), Mirte van Duppen (Territory of the Beings), Katja Verheul (Dynamo), Jaime Levinas (Notes on an Immortal Being) and From Form (Await). Click this link for more info on tickets!

See you this June!

03/06 2021

Construction starts on SPOT Amsterdam

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.

SPOT is a part of a larger area development for the Amstel-III area developed by COD, DUQER and Amvest, and realized by Pleijsier Bouwgroep.


17/05 2021

MINUTES website goes live!

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.

Explore MINUTES!

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.

Visit MINUTES website to discover more information about directors, films and architectural projects. To keep up to date with all upcoming events, online lectures and film releases related to the series, subscribe to the newsletter.

Visual identity: From Form
Website graphic design: Samuel Gadea + Florian Casarin
Website web development: Julien Bidoret, Accent grave
11/05 2021

Courthouse photo series is complete

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.

Browse the full book here!

Amsterdam Courthouse was designed and built by the consortium NACH (New Amsterdam Court House) involving Macquarie Group, ABT, DVP, KAAN Architecten, Heijmans and Facilicom Group.

Book design by Studio Vrijdag

05/05 2021

MINUTES Masterclass at BARQ Festival

On Wednesday, 12 May, the MINUTES series will be presented to the public, this time as a part of the BARQ International Architecture Film Festival. Join via the link below!

In a specially dedicated masterclass for the BARQ International Architecture Film Festival, the series curator Martina Margini and the founding partner of KAAN Architecten, Kees Kaan, will present the short film series MINUTES in a conversation with three of its film directors: Joana Colomar, Miguel C. Tavares and Benitha Vlok.

Since 2017, we have explored the dialogue between cinema and architecture by commissioning different international filmmakers to portray our projects. The result is the MINUTES series, which consists of twelve signature short films.

Join us for the Masterclass here on Wednesday 12 May at 18.00 h. 

The BARQ festival is a perfect occasion to showcase MINUTES as 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.

Event sponsored by Cosentino City Barcelona.

23/04 2021

New milestones in the Paleis Het Loo construction

Photographer Dominique Panhuysen captured another visit to the Paleis Het Loo construction site. Scroll down to see her latest report!

The underground extension in the Bassecourt has been closed, revealing the bottom of a big central pond. In the next phase, a glass roof will be placed to provide daylight for the grand foyer.

The openings in the roof are being executed while the structural work on the future exhibition halls is also in full swing.

In the historical building, the renovation of the monumental Corps de Logis hall is nearing completion, while the steelwork for the entrance pavilions of the wings of Paleis Het Loo is being placed.

Keep an eye on our website or follow the official Paleis Het Loo video channel for more updates on the construction progress.

Photographs by Dominique Panhuysen.

19/04 2021

Steady progress on Galeries Modernes renovation

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.

Photographs by Sebastian van Damme.

01/04 2021

De Zalmhaven construction advances

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 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.

Photographs by Sebastian van Damme.

31/03 2021

First look at MINUTES

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.

Register for the event here

Watch the series trailer!




30/03 2021

‘Every day the Everyday’ – a lecture by Kees Kaan at ENSA Nancy

 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.”

Kees Kaan

To join the lecture on April 6 at 18.00, follow the link here. 
The lecture will be given partially in French and English.

12/03 2021

Amsterdam Courthouse nominated for the Amsterdam Architecture Prize

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.

10/03 2021

Wearable art in the newly renovated KMSKA

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.

Read more about Wijnants’ collaboration with the museum in the interview here, and explore the behind the scenes photographs by Klaartje Lambrechts or the full show video


08/03 2021

A year later – reflections and predictions

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?

MG: This is my first year of teaching – ever, so my experience is probably a bit warped. I was teaching in the fall semester to the 1st year bachelor students. In September, we weren’t in lockdown so we got to have a few physical studio sessions, then later in October we switched to virtual teaching. I must say it was difficult. I’ve had students with great connection on a proper laptop, others with bad connection on their phone, on top of the mountains in the Alps, another one in Martinique, in a different time zone…(laughs) Somehow, we made it work, but in December and January we could get back for in-person studios, and… Students were just so happy to be together, and happy to see us, teachers. Because we could speak through our gestures, our pencils. It was all a bit emotional. Overall, this past year, students had to be adaptable and flexible, so I hope that is also a skill we managed to impart to them for the future.
Dikkie, how was your experience in Germany?

DS: Well, I haven’t seen my students for basically a year now. And we’ve now also heard that the next semester will be virtual too. And it has some advantages, but also a lot of disadvantages.
At this point, we’ve already gone fully digital. My students are completely immersed in this 3D world, gaming and all. So I get a lot of projects that are actually gaming environments. I discovered it when we were doing a studio about Notre Dame. The first thing we looked at was the Assassin’s Creed 3D model of the cathedral and how realistic it was. I mean, the students have modelling software in their hands already, and they can build up a whole world there. With the gaming industry getting better and better, I see more architects wanting to shift to that industry too, to create designed environments rather than just historical reproductions…
I’ve also had some bachelor students tell me they were inspired to become architects after playing Sims all day…

Funny you should mention that, cause The Sims game has initially been designed to be an architecture simulator rather than a video game…

DS: Oh no, I didn’t know that! If that’s true then I could suggest some improvements… (laughs)

MG: Indeed, this gaming environment is a part of the architecture. Some people are spending a lot of time immersed in that world. The difference is in the sensory experience of it – how do you translate the softness or the hardness of a material, how do you express gravity, the feeling of going from a confined space to an open one, the transitions… How do you translate these feelings digitally?

DS: I know! I’ve discussed this with my students too. Their point was that the gaming industry is already so advanced, there are ways of interacting with these environments through VR, holograms and other devices. So it’s coming closer and closer to the real thing. And I’m not fighting it, I embrace it as a part of the architecture. It doesn’t obliterate the real-life aspect of it.

RG: Although I don’t teach, on this matter, I can tell from my children that they really do lead this double life, immersed in their screens and online games. I had to limit their time. When the lockdown started, the first thing I did was buy 6 chickens for our garden…

DS: Really?

RG: Yes, and I said to my kids: ‘You will spend every afternoon outside with those chickens, I do not want to see you inside!’ If I let them, they’d be inside behind a screen – first in class, then for fun. That is basically their whole lifestyle. So when you speak about your students and this other life that they have, this is the same thing – with just ten years difference.
I find it fascinating how important that world is… I think we’re not the right generation to understand it, we grew up differently. Perhaps because our generation doesn’t understand it, there’s a lot of space for improvement in the way we design the buildings that we build?

It circles back to what Dikkie’s research was saying – about the need for experiences in the physical space around us, and how this demand got projected into a virtual dimension, where we’ve built a different world. We’ve even appropriated the architectural jargon – like online platform, forum, chat room

DS: Yeah, it’s very double. If we imagine, let’s say wood, we think about several different types of wood, how it’s cut, how it smells, we know how to put it together. But for those kids, wood is an abstraction, it has no connection to our mental image. It doesn’t exist. It took me a long long time until I understood that I am teaching people who think that the choice of material means clicking one of the boxes in the right corner of their drawing, that it has no relation to the real thing. And if we don’t teach them that, then that’s a loss. If we are not careful then this knowledge will be lost.

This brings me to another thing I wanted to discuss. Dikkie you’ve been vocal about quality, especially in materiality as a cornerstone of sustainability. Does that exclude more high tech solutions?

DS: No, definitely not. I don’t like to put industrial production and craftsmanship in terms of either one being good or bad, both can be made well. Quality is in how and with what intention the products are made and applied in architecture.

RG: Speaking of high tech solutions…Here in São Paulo I am on several committees for the sustainable development of cities, we meet to discuss strategies as well as business opportunities in the sustainability sector. This puts us in contact with companies that are building the actual technology, we hear and learn about carbon footprints of metropolitan regions, decontamination of rivers with phytorestoration, extraction of methane from water etc. I enjoy that they are business owners and they run their business with this kind of advanced thinking. It’s about communicating and building strategies to actually use the knowledge that we are creating. How can we push it further? Often it’s not about finding a perfect solution, but rather something the public will understand and accept, something that can be financed and applicable now.
You know, I’ve never really understood the term smart city, but I do understand a resilient city. We have to find ways of making cities sustainable for the next 80 years, 200 years…For that we need to start thinking systemically, and looking at the entirety of our processes.

DS: Yeah, we have to step back and see the bigger picture. But that’s already difficult in our tiny country, in the Netherlands. You’d be amazed to see how many questionable decisions can be made only in this small area, now imagine France or Brazil…It’s not easy to solve it.

RG: Yeah, but I don’t think it’s even about solving it as much as rectifying the warped idea of sustainability in people’s minds.

MG: But I also feel that people are learning more and more about this and dismantling the old beliefs. I remain optimistic. In Paris, big moves were made to accommodate bicycles, now I think there is more bike traffic than in Rotterdam! It’s a combination of reasons, of course – fewer people take the metro because of the pandemic, the strikes of the previous years – but when I think about Paris 20 years ago, it was a city for cars. Now it’s a different story. It’s not completely done, but it’s changing, and I welcome this.

DS: Do you think this has to do with people just switching from cars to bikes, or is it because many people are moving away from the city?

MG: It’s both, I think. But yeah, Paris is losing inhabitants, around 12 000 per year for the last 10 years or so, mostly because of the price of living. Once again, I think this crisis is a good kick. I see rent prices coming down, albeit slightly. Also since the pandemic started, the city of Paris set up requirements to be included in the local urban plans (PLU) – demands for more diversity, creating collective spaces, flexibility, refurbishments rather than demolitions, preserving existing nature, creating fresh blocks, sourcing local materials etc. These are not precise measures, but instructions. And we’re aiming at results…

RG: Right now, in Brazil, people still want to leave the city. Infrastructure could be better, everybody wants an outdoor space, a garden…It’s a social condition, it’s just the way people are. They’ve always been willing to sacrifice a certain amount of time for their commute so they can enjoy the advantages of both their home and their work area. But I also think this attitude will change for the better after the pandemic…

MG: Yeah, I really do not miss being on the train or the metro for hours, going from one meeting to another, only to have 10 minutes of productive discussions. We’ve saved that time for real work and life…

On that note, do you have any final remarks on where we’re headed?

MG: The architectural working method remains collective. Our profession is not (only) about producing excel sheets. The essence is in cracking problems through drawings, and a drawing is a collective document. To do that, it is easier to be together around one paper, one plan, because questions and doubts hardly pass through the screen.

DS: I must admit I’m intrigued by Marylene’s optimism about this. (laughs) I have been working the past year through this pandemic, but never really stopped to consider the fact that it might also bring good things. And ultimately, I must agree with you Marylene…

MG: (laughs) I do want to specify that I don’t think COVID was a good thing, eh? But that ultimately the crisis might yield good things.

DS: I’m glad that we had this talk, cause now it makes me think that I should focus more on what positive outcome we can bring to it, as architects. Let’s embrace what we can gain from it, not just what we’ve lost.

10/02 2021

Dikkie Scipio to participate in ‘Architects, not architecture’

The ‘Architects, not architecture’ is an established series of talks focused on architects’ personal experiences and important creative periods in their lives, rather than their projects. 

‘The Netherlands Edition’ of the talk will bring Dikkie Scipio to the virtual stage where she will be joined by Nanne de Ru (Powerhouse Company).

Join for the live event on Wednesday, March 10th, 2021 from 19:00 to 20:30 CET. Free registration is available here.

21/01 2021

Two nominations for EU Mies Award 2022

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.

Other KAAN Architecten projects nominated in the previous editions of the EU Mies Award include Institut des Sciences Moléculaires d’Orsay , Utopia libraryEducation Centre Erasmus MC and the Supreme Court of The Netherlands. 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 5 Finalist works will be known in February 2022.


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.

18/01 2021

A daylight museum for the 21st century

In anticipation of the full release of KMSKA, we’ve unveiled the two contrasting and dialoguing museums. Join us on an adventurous architectural journey through these mesmerizing drone shots.

Discover the newly renovated Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where two architectural worlds converge in one building both embodying an emblematic contrast in dimensions, light and atmosphere.

Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen)
KAAN Architecten
Artes Group

Video by Mediamixer

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.


16/12 2020

KAAN Architecten to develop Lumière tower in Rotterdam

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.

More information available here: ManhaveVORM

11/12 2020

KMSKA extension and renovation through time

In anticipation of the release of one of our most prestigious yet extensive projects, we want to remember some of the moments from the construction process of this incredible building.

KAAN Architecten worked on the renovation of the depot, a complete restoration of the existing 19th-century building and an extension of the new museum, adding more than 5000 m2 to the project.

© Karin Borghouts

© Karin Borghouts

© Karin Borghouts

We are incredibly proud and excited to show the finished space in the coming weeks and take you on an adventurous architectural journey full of surprising experiences.

In the meantime, explore the design here.

© Karin Borghouts

© Karin Borghouts

© Karin Borghouts

© Toon Grobet

© Toon Grobet

© Toon Grobet

© Toon Grobet

03/12 2020

De Zalmhaven II reaches highest point

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 & Amvest on 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.

© Sebastian van Damme

Read more information here.

23/11 2020

First look at the artwork for New Amsterdam Courthouse

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.

04/11 2020

Construction advances at Paleis Het Loo

Photographer Dominique Panhuysen brings another photo report from the construction site of Paleis Het Loo. Scroll down for more!

Bassecourt of the palace is progressively getting covered by concrete and steelwork which will hold up the fountain and the glass roof above the grand foyer.

The circular outline of the fountain has already been set up. The mirror-like pond, lined with natural stone, will rise amid a parvis covered in brickwork.

Next to the fountain, the freight elevator has  been completed which will enable the transport of artwork and other large objects to the underground exhibition rooms.

Exhibition rooms connect back to the grand foyer which leads further to the palace wings through underground connections.

Keep an eye on our website or follow the official Paleis Het Loo video channel for more updates on the construction progress.

Photographs by Dominique Panhuysen.

16/09 2020

CMA in the French selection for the 2021 Mies van der Rohe Award

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 CMA is 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.

Other KAAN Architecten projects nominated in the previous editions of the EU Mies Award include ISMO and Utopia Library and Academy for Performing Arts, Education Centre Erasmus MC and the Supreme Court of The Netherlands. 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.

Find out more here!

10/09 2020

Planning for a resilient city

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 Amvest with 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 SPOT project 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.

Read the full story here

07/09 2020

De Zalmhaven construction is well under way

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.

Photographs by Sebastian van Damme.

28/08 2020

Day of Architecture at De Bank

On Saturday, 12 September, KAAN Architecten is participating in the Day of Architecture 2020 (Dag van de Architectuur) by opening the doors of our office to the public.

From 11.00-17.00 h, guided tours will take place at De Bank – our office located in De Nieuwe Boompjes – the former premises of De Nederlandsche Bank originally designed by Henri Timo Zwiers in the 1950s. Book your tour at the link below and find information about the precautions regarding corona safety.

Book here! – De Nieuwe Boompjes – Day of Architecture 2020


31/07 2020

Interview with Kees Kaan for Planet Netherlands

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.

Watch the interview here – part 1 part 2

29/07 2020

Steady progress at Het Loo

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.

Keep an eye on our website or follow the official Paleis het Loo video channel for more updates on the construction progress.

Photographs by Dominique Panhuysen.

27/07 2020

Seventh issue of New Amsterdam Courthouse book series is out now!

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 here or browse the full photo report here.


20/07 2020

CMA nominated for Prix d’architectures 2020

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.


15/07 2020

First look at iCampus facade

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.

29/06 2020

Inside the Bio Safety Laboratory of Erasmus MC

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.

Explore the full project here.


23/06 2020

Second anniversary of Utopia opening

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.

26/05 2020

Renovation of KMSKA nears completion

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.

Photographs by Toon Grobet.

20/05 2020

Progress at Paleis Het Loo

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.


For more updates on the construction progress, keep an eye on our website or follow the official Paleis het Loo video channel.

Photographs by Dominique Panhuysen.


08/05 2020

Architectural practice in times of confinement

French magazine L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui initiated ‘Confiné.es’ (Fr. confined), an interview series that gives a voice to architects whose practices had to adapt to the new way of life, due to the imposed confinement over the COVID-19 spread. Kees Kaan, founding partner of KAAN Architecten, and Marylène Gallon, director of KAAN Architecten France, participated in the interview series. They reflected on differences in ‘confined living’ between Paris and Rotterdam and how this influenced their daily life routine as well as architectural practice.

Read the English version of the interview below. French translation will soon be available on L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui.

Where are you locked down and how did you get organised to continue working ?

KK: The lockdown in the Netherlands is relatively soft. A lot of responsibility is expected from the individual, there is no military in the streets. Overall, I see people taking care and behaving according to government’s recommendations. At the office, we started preparing for the lockdown in February. It was mainly about taking some extra IT measures and defining a protocol that enables a complete switch to remote work. We closed our offices in the middle of March, and since then ‘working from home’ has been the modus operandi. At the moment we are looking at how to reopen in the so called 1,5 meter economy.

MG: I am one of the people who left Paris to temporarily return to their native region, to facilitate the coexistence of professional and personal life. The other collaborators in Paris started working remotely from their homes, occasionally grouping up in one location with a couple of architects from different offices.

Are containment and architecture opposites?

KK: I wouldn’t say they are opposites. Architecture is not about enabling as much public interaction as possible. It is all about the relation of private behaviour in different public domains. It is about finding working relations and careful definitions of spaces for public and private interaction.
If social distancing permanently changes human interaction, then that will be a fundamental architectural issue. It will impact how we’ll redesign our physical world, from the detail to the territory.

MG: Considering our professional activity, it depends on the specific moment and phase of the project. Solitude and calm are often welcome. This confinement helps us avoid the compulsive need for meetings and facilitates concentration (once the kids are busy, of course…). Communication through email, team chats and video calls make things easier when we have to communicate with our partners. We were already quite familiar with working remotely between our Paris and Rotterdam offices, although we used to travel back and forth a lot, during certain key moments of the project (Rotterdam is only 2,40 hours from Paris). However, a team meeting around a blank sheet of paper, a plan, a model, a single screen is still extremely important. Projects are more and more collaborative; architecture resides precisely in this work of communication. This is what we keep on doing while adapting our process.

What lessons do you think you will learn from the ecological impact of this crisis?

KK: We see that nature is flourishing. No further explanation needed. Our standard behaviour has had a devastating impact on the environment.
Having said that, this does not mean we are lost and should not try to mitigate this effect. We are operating on the frontline of our profession and the building industry is one of the largest impactors in that environment. In our most recent experiences we learned that making our buildings more sustainable works better when the link that is made between capex and opex, when we not only design to win crazy competitions but also design to build and operate the building. When the lifecycle becomes an integral part of the brief, sustainable design gets a proper dimension.
This crisis shows us how quickly nature responds in a positive way to small changes in our behaviour. We should remember this when things turn back to ‘normal’.

MG: The speed of our society should be reconsidered: technologies, communications, mobility. Same goes for the balance between abundance and scarcity.
The society of abundance in which we live in often distracts us from what is essential. The available excess of seldom useless, energy or time-consuming goods and information, confronts me with the shortage of health supplies we are currently facing (masks, respirators, IC beds).
Within the building industry, many run after this abundance: concepts, materials, shapes, colours, technologies, labels, regulations; until they forget the essence of the projects. At our office, ‘the essential’ is a notion that we always keep in mind, as well as the importance of building something that lasts through time, fostering quality and adaptability.This leads to a certain architectural sobriety.

A film to see / a book to read during lockdown?

KK: Although in lockdown, I am still working both in our practice, as well as teaching and running the architecture department in Delft. At home, I am living with a family with children still in the school age. They are also ‘working’ from home. It is a very dynamic and lively setting here, no lonesome moments.
So now that we work remotely, it is not that I find an ocean of time to read or watch movies, rather the opposite. Not commuting saves time, but online work is slower and more focused.
I have no special books or films associated with the lockdown, although a very nice book comes to mind immediately. It is Being there by Jerzy Kozinski. It tells the story of a gardener, coming out of a lifetime lockdown in his garden, who is suddenly confronted with our society. It appears he has developed a completely fresh, non-corrupted and disarming state of mind.

MG: Considering the current atmosphere, I would suggest watching Soylent Green by Richard Fleischer and, for something more ‘French’, The wing or the thigh by Claude Zidi.
As for books, I would recommend some maritime tales to which we can relate at the moment: The long way by Bernard Moitessier, a story of a solo race lasting 11 months in 1969 and, more recently, Woman at sea by Catherine Poulain, a harsh story of large fishing boats in Alaska.
Finally, the special AA Hors-Série on KAAN Architecten: “Master Narrators” , of course😉

A social network to follow?

KK: @cp.complexprojects, @datapolis_cp, @espaciogris

MG: Keep in touch! Call your neighbour or your grandpa. Connect with your friends and family! Otherwise, follow @AA and @KAANArchitecten

What do you expect from this experience?

KK: I hope that after lockdown we can maintain some parts of the remote working system. In certain cases, it is more effective than continuously trying to meet physically. It saves travel time and it is better for health and the environment.
I also learned how vulnerable our system/economy is. It is entirely cashflow based. There are hardly any reserves. When the cash stops flowing – systems collapse. We somehow need to make our economy more sustainable. This requires us to plan for the longterm rather than for the quick win. Make companies more resilient on one hand, the employment system more flexible on the other.

A very interesting phenomenon is how quickly the new exceptional became the new normal.
People can adapt quickly and easily to new rules which become new norms, and then we display different behaviour. Dutch government bet on people’s sense of responsibility by announcing a relatively loose lockdown. I think it has worked, and it has set an example.
The 1.5-meter rule made us more gentle towards each other, and maybe even more polite. We avoid unnecessary movement and we have developed a cure from the ‘fear of missing out’ caused by intense social media exposure. Maybe we can hold on to this feeling after lockdown gets alleviated.

MG: First, I hope this will enhance Europe’s cohesion: beyond the circulation of people and capital, cultural and social ties are still far too weak. Education and sharing of knowledge still need to be consolidated and supported. Besides this, I wish the health system (finally) finds stability and balance. Being French and having lived in the Netherlands, I believe that the Dutch health system can teach us something in this regard. Finally, I hope education and culture get recognition as essential activities.

What impact does this containment have on the perception of both your workspace and domestic space?

KK: I have always loved working from home. I like the idea of participating in processes without being constantly present in the office. I have a great workspace in my house that allows me to work comfortably and in an effective way. Still, I miss the office and my team very much today.
The lockdown has forced many people with children to combine family life with daily work. Most of us have had a good opportunity now to test our homes, not just as places for touchdown and sleep, but as real homes to live in, spend hours together with family and find a good balance of privacy and company. I am sure the requirements for our living spaces will be critically reviewed in the near future.
I am also sure that most of us will be relieved when the kids go back to school and the office reopens.

I’m also doing my teaching and other TU Delft related work remotely. We meet students and have critique sessions online. It works, but it is far from ideal. Although it surely is a very interesting additional tool, online environments cannot replace real-life interaction (yet). This is why I believe that, as physical entities, the faculty and the office space will remain important for teamwork and for the special ambience they have for exchange of ideas and knowledge. The question is, however, if the large open floorplates crammed with people are sustainable in the coming years.

When the digital age started, some predicted that paper industry would die, but the opposite occurred. We use more paper now than ever before. On one hand remote work might reduce the need for office/work space, but increase need for living space on the other. Maybe the reduction was already assumed in the previous crisis implemented in flexwork offices. The need for social distance increases the demand for built space and infrastructure in general, and this is interesting in the context of the density debate.

The COVID-19 charts displayed on all media clearly showed the relation between urban density and levels of contamination. The denser the area, the more likely and quickly the virus could spread.
This puts the entire discussion on density, urbanity and territorial development of metropolitan areas in a new perspective. Maybe the polycentric model of The Netherlands is not such a bad one in this context after all.

MG: I constantly shift between my screen, on which I work at 200 km/h, and the slowness of family life. It is a bit like combining an early 20th-century lifestyle with the technologies of the 21st…Nevertheless, I’m grateful that this situation allows me to pursue both family and professional life in an isolated location.
Talking about housing conditions, isolation is not only a problem related to this crisis. Think about sick or elderly people, about geographically, socially or economically isolated citizens, or children who receive home-care and those who look after them (parents, nannies, babysitters), adolescents who spend a lot of time in their rooms, professionals who were already working remotely even before this crisis, etc. All living spaces must be dignified and comfortable, allowing people to spend most of their time there. It is now evident. This sanitary confinement consolidates certain ideas about house design and essential topics such as natural light, views, exposure to the sun, air circulation, flexibility and adaptability, outdoor spaces, nice atmosphere, etc. The city’s stakeholders should certainly learn the most from it. The opportunity is there, it must be seized and maximized.



06/05 2020

First look at De Walvis

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.

Photographs by Sebastian van Damme.

29/04 2020

Conversations between art and architecture

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

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

© Karin Borghouts

© Karin Borghouts

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

© Dominique Panhuysen

© Johannes Schwartz

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

© Sebastian van Damme

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

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

The location of the future artwork by Nicole Eisenman

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

© Christian Richters


22/04 2020

Construction on iCampus in Munich breaks ground

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

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

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

21/04 2020

Uncovering layers of history

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

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

© Simone Bossi

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