December 2021
02/12 2021

Sustainability is an exercise in citizenship – Making of KAAN

Following her participation at the COP26 in Glasgow, our managing director Renata Gilio talks to us about her active work as an urban planner and policymaker in Brazil, ideas for achieving resilient cities and misconceptions about sustainability. Read more in the latest ‘Making of KAAN’ edition below!

Many may not know about your involvement in the sustainability policymaking of São Paulo. Can you give us some background on how it all started?

Well, for the past eight years already, we have been working on large urban projects in Brazil to reshape regulations by promoting urban hub densification, restoring green pockets at water edges, and developing low impact mobility infrastructures.

Thanks to our work in planning and sustainability development of large urban scale projects, KAAN Architecten has been invited as a voting member of the Chamber for Climate Change in São Paulo. This has been a very fruitful collaboration. The direct exchange with companies from the private and public sectors keeps us connected to new technologies and market development.

How did you go about making realistic goals for climate improvement in SP?

At the Chamber, we believe that decarbonization is the victim of a horse race where lack of data damages the liability of the matter. When it comes to the worldwide rules, we are all behind, and today there are still no precise scales and methodologies common to different nations. So the first step was setting the basis for national regulations and measuring carbon emissions.

And has it taken off in the direction you intended it to?

Definitely! After three years of work, we finally created our own system of carbon credits in São Paulo state. The strategy of the Chamber encourages a collaborative approach via incentives. We took on the role to calculate CO2 emissions and created a compensation program for private companies in Brazil. Today more than 1.000 private companies are already part of the voluntary program, and we hope to develop new regulations for the private sector soon. At the COP26, the Chamber presented the results of this effort and the regulations in a joint publication. This is just the beginning, and I’m eager to see the evolution of the discussions in different countries, especially after the progress achieved on unifying regulations during the COP26.

Chamber for Climate Change members at the COP26 in Glasgow

Based on that experience, how do you see the policies of São Paulo, and other cities for that matter, evolving?

Containing growth in urban expansion is key to sustainable and resilient development. It is possible to live within the limits of the ecosystem, meet the present and future needs, and ensure justice and equity for all through high quality, well thought urban projects. For me, that’s the most rewarding thing about working as an urban planner: making meaningful changes.

The main goal should always be to promote building resiliency when studying urban development based on affordability, compactness and connectivity. Not all urban innovations require high-end technology skills or equipment. And it’s always a good option to start a concept with a passive sustainability approach. In the end, sustainability is an exercise in citizenship, also for architects and urban planners.

Project: Operação Urbana Consorciada SBC

How does the work of KAAN Architecten tie in with this?

When we look into general KAAN methodology, it’s based on process, understanding the questions, and creating the best possible answer/design. That’s also our approach to sustainability. Sometimes the focus is clearly on community building and social development, sometimes in low maintenance and representation, other times in overall carbon footprint. But the common denominator is a profound respect for the site and its specificities.

Some examples of this work are the urban operation projects for Sao Bernardo do Campo, Sao Jose dos Campos and Contagem. ‘Urban operation’ is a focused review of urban legislations for an area developed under the government’s coordination and involving the private sector, residents and users of the site. In these projects, the goal is to densify the consolidated areas within a given perimeter, shape and regulate real estate interventions in target places seeking to produce an urban space with structural transformations, social improvements and environmental enhancement.

Operação Urbana Consorciada São José

This is rarely the kind of work most people have in mind when you mention sustainability…

Yes, people usually forget that sustainability is much more than the visible environmental aspects of a project. Intangible, economic and social matters are just as important and, as architects, it is our moral obligation to discuss and work on those matters too. I’m not a very big fan of the term “greenwashing”, but that’s exactly what happens when we simply discuss matters like the materiality of a building, for example, without considering its carbon chain, logistics, the boost for the local economy, durability and maintenance efforts for those design choices.

There is one undeniable truth when we speak about sustainability, though – the most sustainable building is the one you don’t build. The same is true for urban planning: the best way to promote the decarbonization of modern cities is to understand their infrastructure and densify strategic neighbourhoods rich in mobility nodes and public equipment. It sounds like something quite intuitive and straightforward but it’s remarkably difficult to achieve.


Renata Gilio is the Managing Director of KAAN Architecten with extensive experience in urban planning projects across Brazil and Latin American territory. She is an active member of the Sao Paulo Chamber for Climate Change and Sustainable Cities Club.

Interview by Valentina Bencic. The original text was edited for clarity and brevity.

Cover image: El Prat de Llobregat project (2008)

29/11 2021

‘I AM EVERY WOMAN’ – Sevdaliza meets KAAN Architecten

The creative collaboration between musical artist Sevdaliza and KAAN Architecten is a celebration of female leadership in every form.

The evocative photographs by Willemskantine showcase Sevdaliza‘s powerful presence as she embodies every position in the workplace. No distinction is made between these positions: they each hold potential, talent, power and strength. Hierarchy is non-existent. Sevdaliza is EVERY WOMAN.

The right combination of ingredients meets in De Bank, our Rotterdam headquarters representing THE OFFICE – the everyday work environment of millions of people throughout the globe. THE OFFICE is characterized by the solid balance between two simple materials, wood and concrete, creating a stable, durable and strong realm. Sevdaliza is characterized by her continuously flowing cutting-edge artistry with a long-term philosophical and existential approach to being. Together they merge power, innovation and strength, resulting in self-explanatory art. It effectively emphasizes the concept of female leadership in every interpretation possible. Construction of two identities melting together into an alluring combination of roughness and elegance.

Creative Direction & Photography: @willemskantine
Producer: @evaschaaf
Art-Director: @jairoxlr
Stylist: @leendertcs
Hair: @latoyavelberg
Make-Up: @laurayard
Gaffer: @linhou.o
Food Dresser: @__agne
Photography Assistant: @ashleyrottjers
Styling Assistant: @leawilbrand
Gaffer Assistant:


16/11 2021

Conversation about light with Flores & Prats Arquitectes

On 23 November 2021, A+ Architecture in Belgium and Bozar are hosting a conversation between KAAN Architecten and Flores & Prats Arquitectes at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels for a joint thematic conference on natural light. 

Vincent Panhuysen will talk about the use of daylight in the work of KAAN Architecten, drawing upon examples such as the Crematorium Siesegem, Utopia Library in Aalst and many more. The evening will close with a discussion with Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores.

See you at Palais des Beaux-Arts – Brussels on 23 November 2021, 19:00. Get tickets here.
The event will be in English.

15/11 2021

‘Territory of the Beings’ released on MINUTES platform

We are delighted to introduce the short film ‘Territory of the Beings’, now freely available worldwide on the MINUTES web platform. This film marks the seventh release for the series, consisting of 12 short movies directed by international filmmakers and portraying a selection of projects by KAAN Architecten.

Directed by Dutch visual artist Mirte van Duppen, ‘Territory of the Beings’ pays homage to the classic wildlife documentaries by exploring the office setting as if it were a natural habitat of an animal species – the ‘beings’.

Set in the District Water Board Brabantse Delta office building, the movie is a comprehensive survey of the beings (the employees) in a modern ecosystem consisting of flexible islands (the office). The narrator takes you on tour: displaying, analyzing and describing the beings’ behaviour and how they occupy and defend their territory. 

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.


02/11 2021

The new hybrid city block

On Wednesday, November 24, 2021, Architectenweb, in collaboration with the Lectoraat Bouwtransformatie van de Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Pakhuis de Zwijger and MORE Architecture, is organizing a symposium on the emergence of a new hybrid building block: the combination of a closed building block with several residential towers.

This new typology is explored and discussed based on precursors from Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht. What are the design solutions applied in this block? What are the challenges? And how will these blocks shape the future city?

Kees Kaan joins the symposium to discuss SPOT Amsterdam, a mixed residential and office district in the middle of Amstel III designed by KAAN Architecten. The panel of speakers also includes designers from MORE Architecture, Barcode Architects, de Architekten Cie, OZ, and BURA.

Reserve your place at the link.

01/11 2021

KAAN Architecten at the COP-26

As an official member of São Paulo’s Chamber for Climate Change, KAAN Architecten will participate in the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-26) in Glasgow. Find out more below!

Through our branch office in Sao Paulo and the active membership of managing director Renata Gilio in the Chamber for Climate Change, KAAN Architecten is a part of the policymaking processes for the sustainable development of the State of São Paulo. The Chamber was founded by the state government agency CETESB to technically support the São Paulo Environmental Agreement. It brings together 18 representatives from various sectors of the economy of São Paulo, working to encourage the technological change and structural shifts necessary to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, creating decarbonization policies and regulations in the State.

Today at the COP-26 summit in Glasgow, CETESB and the Government of the State of São Paulo are launching the book ‘São Paulo Environmental Agreement: 56 successful cases in the climate agenda’.  The book is a joint research effort in reducing GHG emissions and its findings will also be presented as a part of the CETESB-UN Climate Change Partnership on Friday, 5 November.


12/10 2021

Kees Kaan at ‘Learning Landscapes’ conference

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.

Watch it here!

11/10 2021

CIRCLE – Build faster with flexible modules

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 PREFAB fair!

Discover the brochure below!



‘Dynamo’ released on MINUTES platform

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 CUBE at 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.

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.

08/10 2021

A building that sets a new standard – how we built the biggest Courthouse in the Netherlands

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.

Source: Skyscrapercity

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.

Featured image by Dominique Panhuysen. 

27/09 2021

MINUTES – Building Stories – Architecture on Film

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 MINUTES series 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 (Crafted by Benitha Vlok), the acceptance of mortality (Static by 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 MINUTES project, visit the project website.

KMSKA opening announced!

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!

Featured image courtesy of KMSKA.



17/09 2021

‘Beautiful but not perfect’ – a story of KMSKA

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!




13/09 2021

‘Ruling’ released on MINUTES platform

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.

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.

09/09 2021

KMSKA nominated for EU Mies Award

Recent renovation and extension of Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts has garnered a nomination for the prestigious architectural award organised by the Fundació Mies van der Rohe.

Among the 532 nominated works for 2022 EU Mies van der Rohe Award, KAAN Architecten now has 3 separate nominations, besides KMSKA, including Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Hauts-De-France in Lille and Amsterdam Courthouse in the Netherlands which were announced earlier this year.

Photograph by Sebastian van Damme

Photograph by Stijn Bollaert

Other KAAN Architecten projects nominated in the previous editions of the EU Mies Award include Institut des Sciences Moléculaires d’Orsay , Utopia library,  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. 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

30/08 2021

Construction starts on The Stack in Amsterdam

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.

Explore the project here.


23/08 2021

‘To Become One’ released on MINUTES platform

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.

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.

05/08 2021

iCampus construction advances

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.

Explore the full design here.

02/08 2021

Save the date: MINUTES at Pakhuis de Zwijger on 28 September

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 Instagram for the latest updates and visit the website to watch the released movies.

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 ( 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.

© Bart Gosselin

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

© Luuk Kramer

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

© Karin Borghouts

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

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

© Sebastian van Damme

© Karin Borghouts

17/04 2020

A vertical journey through the museum

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

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

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


14/04 2020

Fashion meets architecture at KMSKA

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

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


08/04 2020

Restoration of FAMA cultural centre begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

31/03 2020

‘This will kill that’ – an essay by Dikkie Scipio for de Architect

In the March issue of de Architect, Dikkie Scipio wrote an essay about the shifting position of architecture within the scope of all arts, weaved through the story of the Parisian Notre-Dame cathedral. Find below the full transcript in English.

The original article written in Dutch can be found here

“Recently I read Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris, written in 1830. The book became widely known as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and is remembered as the love story between the gypsy beauty Esmeralda and the pitiful creature, deafened by the bells and living in the belfry of the cathedral. Victor Hugo wrote his novel as a plea for restoring the Notre Dame which was in great disrepair at the time. In doing so, Hugo showed a thorough and detailed knowledge of architecture. He formed a passionate opinion about the matter and did not avoid writing a strong manifesto against the damage done by the Academies, professors and “certain individuals that have adopted the title of the architect”.

Victor Hugo classified three sorts of devastation that had brought Notre Dame to its state of ruin at the beginning of the nineteenth century. First: Time, responsible for the wrinkles and warts on the building’s skin. Second: the acts of violence and the brutalities, the bruises and fractures being the work of Revolutions. And third: the mutilations, amputations, and dislocations by A Swarm of Architects from the schools – licensed and certified – who defaced by choice with the discrimination of bad taste. In summary, he applied the Latin quote Tempus edax, homo edacior (Time erodes, man erodes more) which he freely translated as: Time is blind, man is stupid.

To put this into perspective, the Notre Dame of Paris was built over a period of 182 years, starting in 1163, the age of Charlemagne and Romanesque architecture, and ending in 1345 after the reign of Philip IV in Gothic architecture. By the time of Victor Hugo, the Vitruvius books had been recovered, and the Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassicism and Romanticism had touched the cathedral. Revolutions of the religious kind (Luther’s Theses of 1517 and the Reformation), economic kind (rise of the bourgeoisie), social kind (French Revolution of 1789) and political kind (Napoleon’s reign 1804-1814) had all scratched and scarred Our Lady.

Victor Hugo was right to note the state of the cathedral, but after 600 years it could hardly be a surprise the building had been modified, even if they were bold modifications like the removal of the spire. What might have enraged him so about mankind and architects?

The answer to this is revealed when he explains the full significance of chapter one, ending with the Archdeacon directing our gaze away from a book, made possible by Gutenberg’s printing press, to the monumental cathedral, and lamenting: “Alas, this will kill that”.

Until the fifteenth century, architecture was the principal register of mankind, man’s chief form of expression. All ideas of any complexity which arose in the world became a building. Every popular idea, just like every religious dogma, had its monuments. In fact, the human race inscribed in stone every one of its important philosophies. When this was disseminated among the masses and then suppressed by feudalism, architecture was its one outlet, eventually being fully unleashed through this art form by the realization of cathedrals. The other arts all submitted to the discipline and dominance of architecture.

Thus, up until Gutenberg in 1439, architecture was the chief, the universal form of writing.

With the invention of the press, books took over the role of architecture as the exclusive mode of expression. Architecture was dethroned. It was no longer the total, the sovereign art; it no longer had the strength to keep hold of the other arts and so they set themselves free. Sculpture became statuary, imagery became painting, canon became music and, from the sixteenth century, the great artists rose to prominence. Architecture became merely one art among others.

As human ideas change their shape, they change their mode of expression. The central idea of each generation would no longer be written in the same way or with the same material. The book of stone would give way to the book of paper. Paper was to kill the building and the sole power of the Church, and the Archdeacon was feeling the transition. For Victor Hugo, it was the ignorance of the ‘architecture as one art among others’ making adaptations to the ‘architecture as the mother of all arts’ that infuriated him.

Today we are again in transition. This time books of paper are losing their absolute power to express knowledge, as the digital realm and internet rise. Like architecture, books will not be lost but they will have to reinvent an independent status as one art among many.

As for architecture, digitalization adds an extra dimension to our profession. It would not be surprising if many young architects started designing videos, virtual reality and gaming experiences of architecture and urban design, as a precursor to building. In the digital world, again many independent arts are being combined to create an energy that raises overall design quality. Who knows, architecture may regain a position of hegemony and virtual cities and buildings may become our combined mode of expression once again.”


Prof. Dikkie Scipio

for De Architect

1st quarter, 2020


Translated from Dutch by Dianna Beaufort (Words On The Run)

26/03 2020

A day at De Bank

In February photographer Inga Powilleit visited our office to capture a typical working day in our Rotterdam headquarter. Although we are currently working remotely, we look back fondly at our daily office routine and hope to return to it as soon as circumstances allow it.

Powilleit describes her process as concentrated observation and calmness, a waiting game of sorts for the right opportunity to arise even in the most complex of situations. In this way she captures the essence of her subject.

A day at De Bank is precisely such a complex situation, comprising a variety of dynamics. Busy periods of activity, team meetings and presentations are interspersed with moments of quiet contemplation and individual work. Powilleit welcomes this chaos, claiming: “I enjoy working when people no longer notice my presence, when I can really capture them in their own environment and concentration.”

All of this takes place in a photogenic space flooded with daylight coming in from both sides, with long corridors and passages allowing Powilleit to experiment with composition. Working, meeting and leisure spaces are all effectively connected, producing a variety of different shots ranging from still lifes to overviews.

18/03 2020

Building up the Bassecourt

The renovation and reconstruction of Paleis Het Loo started over two years ago. Within that time extensive groundwork made room for the new underground entrance of the museum – the Bassecourt. On her recent visit, photographer Dominique Panhuysen captured the instances from the ongoing construction.

During the past year major progress has been made in the Bassecourt, which was excavated to make room for the new entrance facilities, the Grand Foyer and several exhibition spaces.

The deepest point of the construction pit has been reached and concrete was poured and cured underwater to make sure the structure is without tears or leaks. Following that process, first walls of the underground facilities have been raised.

On the inside, the palace has been undergoing operations for removing asbestos and is now asbestos free; well ahead of the governmental requirements. The interior has been carefully dismantled in order to preserve the original elements from the 1600s to remove the dangerous material that was placed in the palace during the 1970s. Once the renovation and removal of asbestos are finished, all the pieces will be put back in place.

To find out more about the renovation process, watch the timelapse video of the construction here or click here to keep up with the ongoing video series following the construction progress. At this link, you can see the timeline of the construction process.

16/03 2020

KAAN Architecten remains fully operational

Collaboration and teamwork are key aspects of our daily work in architecture. While the circumstances of society change by the minute, KAAN Architecten’s workflow continues remotely to serve our clients and partners, safeguarding our fellow citizens’ and employees’ health and safety.

By means of our digital platform, the integral processes concerning design, meetings, presentations and communication are maintained without reservations. Our teams are active and can be contacted during office hours through the usual communication channels.

On behalf of the team, KAAN Architecten sends its warmest regards for your health and safety. Remain responsible and vigilant for the benefit of your community.

11/03 2020

Enter the KAAN Architecten publication giveaway!

Due to great interest, we are giving away several books and publications about the work of KAAN Architecten. Find out how to enter below!

Enter for a chance to win a copy of limited edition project books and monograph issues with rich illustrative and photographic documentation of KAAN Architecten projects. Click on links below to explore the publications eligible for the giveaway:

L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui Hors-série – KAAN Architecten

I Maestri dell’Architettura Collector’s Edition – KAAN Architecten

Crematorium Siesegem

Utopia – Library and Academy for Performing Arts

ISMO – Institut des Sciences Moléculaires d’Orsay

To enter, fill in the form HERE with your contact information and mark your preferred publication. Please note the giveaway will close on 18 March 2020. Winners will be selected at random and notified by email. Collected information will be kept confidential and used solely for contacting the winners.

06/03 2020

KAAN Architecten to design the new Education Centre for University of Groningen

Following an international competition, the University of Groningen (UG) awarded KAAN Architecten as the winning entry for the design of a new Educational Centre for the faculties of Medical Sciences and Science & Engineering, located just outside the historical city centre.

In the past, the gradual expansion of the campus created a sprawling network of buildings with complex internal relations. The new Education Centre will re-establish the flows and clearly define the public space, becoming a central accessible core for the University and functioning as the main entrance for the Healthy Ageing Campus. The complex will rise between the ERIBA building, the Faculty of Medical Science complex and the new Proton Therapy Centre of the University Medical Center Groningen, joining a cluster of existing structures with shared facilities that provide access to the clinic, research facilities and companies.

“Educational buildings are always an exciting architectural challenge, and we couldn’t be more delighted to bring our concept to life. The new centre will bring fresh identity to this part of the campus while connecting and reinforcing the surrounding buildings.” says KAAN Architecten founding partner Vincent Panhuysen. Within its 11,000 m2 of surface, the new Education Centre will provide a sustainable, open and dynamic space for students. The connections with the existing buildings are gently integrated in the design, to highlight the Centre’s bonding purpose for the whole campus.

The Centre will provide lecture halls, libraries, classrooms, project rooms, education square, patios, a restaurant, an underground bicycle parking and some flexible workplaces that teachers can use between class hours. Busier and quietest facilities will be smartly arranged through a rational structure, providing adequate working and leisure environments for the students, with respect for their work and concentration, while still offering generous natural light and green spaces. Brick, wood and concrete will be the main materials used in the construction of the Centre, providing a robust yet friendly study environment.

The building will host up to 2.000 employees and students, with its facilities being highly flexible and adaptable to any possible future changes in the organization of the Campus. The winning competition team is composed by KAAN Architecten (architect), Sweegers en De Bruijn (installation advisor), ABT (sustainability), Peutz (building physics consultants).

The full project will be released soon. In the meantime, find out more information here.

28/02 2020

KAAN Architecten Hors-série monograph issue published by A’A’

KAAN Architecten is pleased to announce the release of a Hors-série publication focused on the firm’s projects and practice, published by L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, a Paris based international architecture magazine founded in 1930. The magazine, renowned for its critical look at architecture and urbanism, dedicated a 64-pages issue to the work of KAAN Architecten, available in both English and French.

The volume opens with Andrew Ayers’ in-depth interview with partner and co-founder Kees Kaan entitled ‘Master Storytellers’. It traces the milestones of the office’s history during the last two decades, touching upon important features of the firms’ philosophy, most prominently the narrative nature of the design process.

The publication further investigates the approach of KAAN Architecten through analysing four buildings as the highlights of the office portfolio: Supreme Court of the Netherlands, Utopia Library and Academy for Performing Arts, Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat and Erasmus MC Education Centre. These four essays are written by Christelle Granja, implementing the voice of Marylène Gallon and Vincent Panhuysen.

Furthermore, the Hors Série also features editorials by Emmanuelle Borne, editor-in-chief of A’A’, and three ‘Carte Blanche’ contributions. This editorial space is dedicated to selected artists who established fruitful collaborations with KAAN Architecten: Victor Vroegindeweij (filmmaker), Helen Verhoeven (painter) and Dominique Panhuysen (photographer).

The issue is available for purchase in selected architecture and art libraries world-wide, as well as online at the following link.

KAAN Architecten would like to thank the editorial team behind this publication: Laure Paugam, Guillaume Ackel, Anastasia de Villepin and Caterina Grosso, as well as the very talented journalists Andrew Ayers and Christelle Granja. This publication would not have been possible without the help and support of Groep Van Roey and Velux.  

18/02 2020

I find ‘women in architecture’ a difficult subject – an interview with Dikkie Scipio

Founding partner of KAAN Architecten, Dikkie Scipio, recently sat down for an interview with Merel Pit for A.ZINE’s Ms. Architect section. Read their conversation below!


Originally published on (available in Dutch here

“The fact that there are fewer women than men in architectural firms has nothing to do with the profession itself.” Dikkie Scipio, founding partner of KAAN Architecten, launches right into the interview with a statement about women in architecture. What follows is a discussion about her desire to take her responsibility as a role model seriously, and her opinions on what quality means in architecture. If she could plan the future, she would be designing two more significant buildings and then become Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands.

Once we’ve taken our seats in the meeting room, Dikkie Scipio gets right down to business: “So you interview women working in architecture. I find ‘women in architecture’ a difficult subject; I’ve always felt this. I fight it tooth and nail, the idea that there are fewer female architects because of the nature of the work itself. It’s nonsense that gender has any kind of influence on the quality of work you produce as an architect.”

What is the reason behind it then?

“Everything has to happen in that first phase of life – buying a house, having children, building a career – and in the meantime our life expectancy keeps rising. We’re gaining more and more time, while our window of fertility remains the same. So we need to develop a vision for the entire span of our life. The time for having children and raising them is diminishing relative to a whole lifetime. In the first phase of life we should allow ourselves the freedom to focus on this and getting a good education. After 18 years of child-rearing, during which you’ve developed in all kinds of ways, you can devote yourself to a career. A comprehensive view like this will benefit society, creating happier, more relaxed people. But it won’t be happening just yet.”

When will it?

“Once the baby-boomers are gone. Then the urgency becomes real, because the responsibility for a functioning society will suddenly rest on the shoulders of a very small group of people. A large part of this group is already suffering from burn-outs, because it’s incredibly hard to raise kids and move up the career ladder at the same time – whatever the profession.”

So fewer women at architectural firms has mostly to do with having children?

“Yes. When a woman doesn’t have children, then the same rules apply as they do for men.  Then she can put all her energy into her career, without anything holding her back.”

But how can it be that young fathers do continue to work at architectural firms?

“Because they are men. Of course, they also have a caregiving role, but they do not get pregnant, give birth or breastfeed. We women can more or less act as though we don’t have children, at least if we are lucky with our partners. Yet, if we were to feel prouder about being a woman, then we would simply invest more time in that busy, early phase of life. We’d have children first and then later invest the time in our career.”

Take more time. Is that your advice for working mothers?

“Yes. Motherhood is the most beautiful thing in the world. When I think about it, it’s such a shame that I didn’t allow myself the space and time to enjoy it because of my own notions about needing to prove myself at work. I was just on the go all the time. But it’s not healthy, and it’s also not necessary. It’ll happen later. We women need to – calmly and confidently – establish our position. I decided a while ago that I would no longer work on projects that require me to be away from home for more than one night. This was a very conscious choice, and it means that I cannot take on any projects in China, for example.”

My column Ms. Architect is primarily intended to give a platform to female architects. I feel they are less visible. For example, many people don’t know that you are a full partner at KAAN Architecten. Everyone thinks that the office is run by Kees Kaan. How do you feel about that? 

“It’s really annoying. I’ve recently realized that a public presence is actually an important part of my job. If I want to be a role model for young women, then I need to step up and become visible. I also don’t want my work to be ascribed to someone else. This means I need to work on getting seen, but I find that tricky. I really just want to work on my projects, give them my full attention and ensure that we achieve quality. And all this should not suffer from efforts to increase visibility.”

 What does quality in architecture mean to you?

“That I take the skill and professionalism of our discipline very seriously, at all levels. As an architect I create spaces, but before I get there I have to examine what really needs to happen from a multitude of perspectives. I only start once I fully understand the needs of the client and users. There’s a big difference between what people think they want and what they actually need.

Ultimately, I want a building to last, and to bond with users by making it so innately attractive to their needs that they will continue to explore and experience the building. I want them to have a relationship with the spaces and materials that make up the building. As an architect it’s important to be able to visualize this. The biggest compliment I can get when a building is completed is when clients and users tell me: we never could have imagined it this beautiful.”

What do you think is the current state of quality in Dutch architecture?

“The discipline of architecture in the Netherlands is lacking leadership and vision at the moment. There seems to be a misguided view among many clients that you can call up an architect to get them to design a pretty picture. But that is a fallacy. Architecture is so much more complex, in both the design and the execution of projects. We as a community have unfortunately allowed this to happen. Now it’s a constant struggle to achieve quality. In a few years, when Floris [Alkemade] has finished his mandate, and after I’ve completed two large-scale projects, I would love to take on the role of Chief Government Architect.”

What would you be able to do as Chief Government Architect to raise the level of quality in Dutch architecture?

“During the recession we still had the DBFMOs. They had their disadvantages, but the collective priority of creating a building based on sustainable quality was good. Now that the market is restored, making money has become the priority and creating a building that lasts is less important. Now a building has to be ‘circular’, which means nothing more than ‘easy to demolish’. I can accept the mechanisms of the market, but not that municipalities and other governing authorities have lost the capacity to develop visions.”

I’ve spoken to a lot of architects who long for a return of the climate 20 years ago, when young architects in the Netherlands had much more access to opportunities.

“Yes, a lot of young architects have a chance to develop their skills then, thanks to the regulated Dutch housing market. But they didn’t really have access to the big projects, with the exception of a few. I think it’s presumptuous for young architects to think they have the right to design a big complex just after graduating. You need to have a lot of experience to do that. Fortunately, experience grows automatically, that is, if you work on developing your skills and talent. Architecture is about understanding the client, managing processes, designing details and building the actual structure. Quality means you strive for perfection in all these aspects.”

 What would you still like to achieve as an architect?

“A building that will stand for centuries. Many developers write off a building after fifteen years. In this context, I could create seven buildings in a century. But I’m not interested in numbers, only in quality. The French writer Marguerite Yourcenar inspires me, for example. She rewrote and rewrote the same book until it was perfect. I ask myself in my work: when have I captured the essence? If I want to design a building that will stand the test of time, its quality needs to be at 100%.”

Merel Pit is the founder of A.ZINE, initiator of Ms. Architect (Mevr. De Architect) column and a 2019 Quarterly Winner of Fleur Groenendijk Foundation. As a board member of the Foundation, Dikkie Scipio writes in response to the chosen winners, and her follow-up on Merel’s win can be found here.

Photographs by Inga Powilleit.


14/02 2020

Construction progress at NACH

Explore the full photo report of the ongoing construction from a recent visit to the New Amsterdam Courthouse building site.

Located in the south of Amsterdam, the new Courthouse building has been steadily progressing since topping out in 2019.

The facade glazing is being mounted, nearly closing up the building. On the inside rough finishes have been put in, as well as natural stone wall cladding.

KAAN Architecten is undertaking works for the New Amsterdam Courthouse as part of a consortium which includes Macquarie Corporate Holdings Ltd., ABT, DVP, Heijmans and Facilicom.

Photography by Sebastian van Damme.

10/02 2020

Two years of construction in one minute

This January marked the two year anniversary of starting the renovation and extension of Paleis Het Loo. During the past year, major progress has been made in the Bassecourt, which was excavated to make room for the new entrance facilities and exhibition spaces.

The deepest point of the construction pit has been reached and concrete was poured and cured underwater to make sure the structure is without tears or leaks. Following that process, first walls of the underground facilities have been raised.

Watch below the recap of the past two years, or click here to keep up with the ongoing video series following the construction progress.

Featured image by Sebastian van Damme.


07/02 2020

Italian monograph issue of KAAN Architecten has been published

As a part of their Masters of Architecture series, the Italian publishing house Hachette has dedicated an issue to the work of KAAN Architecten.

The publication traces the history of the office through milestone projects, most notably revisiting the Netherlands Embassy in Mozambique, Supreme Court of The Netherlands, as well as the UTOPIA library in Aalst and the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Terminal.

The Masters of Architecture series of illustrated monographs features the works and protagonists of contemporary architecture, including among others UN Studio, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Foster+Partners, Studio Liebeskind and Zaha Hadid Architects.

The issue is available in Italian only, and can be purchased online or on newsstands across Italy. Get your copy here!

06/02 2020

Tranquil landscape of Crematorium Siesegem takes shape

Vast cultivated landscape surrounding the Crematorium Siesegem in Aalst is captured in mesmerizing drone photos by Marcel IJzerman. 

Nestled in the landscape designed by Erik Dhont, the crematorium building is a comforting sequence of spaces in symbiotic relationship with its surroundings. Its calm, easily readable environment and tranquil landscape merge together to emanate genuine serenity. This cohesive relationship between the building and the nature is essential, and it became even stronger when the final form of the new landscape expressed its full potential after a few seasons.

Trees and shrubs line the perimeter while the crematorium is situated in the middle, with a footprint of 74 by 74 meters. The surrounding greenery is envisioned as an extension of the crematorium space and is an important part of the funeral ceremony.

Upon arrival, undulating hills emerge from the ground among the parking areas, while a dynamic landscape spreads to the east articulated by natural flora development on the sloping topography. The hills for scattering the ashes and the urn garden rise along the northern facade, bringing the landscape into the ceremonial proceedings.

Photgraphs by Marcel IJzerman.

20/12 2019

FLOWCITY at 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture Shenzhen

KAAN Architecten will participate in the 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) with FLOWCITY, a 24-screen immersive video installation documenting the era of new mobility, urban infrastructure and transport hubs.

FLOWCITY visualizes how we operate as collective space makers. The video traces the evolution of the new Terminal – from a winning competition entry through several phases of development, towards the current design decisions. The vast quantity of data, collected over the past three years, is quantified over time to illustrate the progressive and fluid nature of its design. The reflection on the quantity of stored data includes the prediction of the movement of people within the new terminal and the constant exchange of information between the different flows: workers, travellers and visitors.

FLOWCITY video has been designed by RNDR with OPENRNDR software, and commissioned by KAAN Architecten.

The Bi-City Biennale will open its doors to the public on December 21st, 2019 at the new Futian high-speed Railway Station and at the Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning. If you wish to know more about the 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) please visit the official website.

18/12 2019

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

The sixth issue of the photo series by photographer Dominique Panhuysen has been published. The series follows the New Amsterdam Courthouse construction site and building process.

This latest edition chronicles June throughout October 2019 during which the highest point of the building has been reached. Meanwhile, the facade glazing is being mounted, nearly closing up the building. On the inside rough finishes have been put in, as well as natural stone wall cladding.

KAAN Architecten is undertaking works for the New Amsterdam Courthouse as part of a consortium which includes Macquarie Corporate Holdings Ltd., ABT, DVP, Heijmans and Facilicom.

Explore the design here or browse the full photo report here.


15/11 2019

CMA in Lille nominated for Équerre d’Argent 2019

Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Hauts-De-France has been nominated for the prestigious Équerre d’Argent award in the category Activities.

Out of over 200 applications, the jury comprised of editors of Le Moniteur and AMC nominated 20 projects, divided into five categories. On Monday, 25 November at the Arab World Institute in Paris, each nominated project will be presented to the jury and the winner of each category will be announced.

Find out more here.

Photograph by Sebastian van Damme.

06/11 2019

KAAN Architecten in the running for Paris La Défense redesign

Paris La Défense has appointed five international offices to compete in reimagining of the vast space beneath the Esplanade of Axe historique, including the iconic ‘la Cathedrale’ located in the heart of the La Défense business district.

Besides KAAN Architecten, offices in the running include Baukunst, Emilio Tuñón, Lacaton & Vassal, and Tezuka Architects in association with Ciel Rouge Création. This selection was made based on relevance of previous work as well as the strength and multi-disciplinarity of skills.

Photography by Cyrille Weiner

Through a competitive dialogue process, Paris La Défense intends to enhance the 20,000 m² of underground space beneath the district. The competing firms will have several months to propose both a long-term vision necessary for the completion of this complex project, as well as more immediate first interventions to reveal these hidden spaces.

Photography by Cyrille Weiner

At the end of the dialogue in early 2020, Paris La Défense will choose the team that will make ‘la Cathedrale’ and its contiguous volumes a real urban experience, unusual and original, driven by its aesthetic DNA and an atypical programmatic ambition.

Historically, the platform of Paris La Défense was designed to separate the functions for the users of the district from technical or logistical purposes, leaving thousands of square meters unexploited with ceiling heights often reaching up to 15 meters.

Find out more information here.

04/11 2019

De Meester 2019 winner announced

The fifth edition of De Meester event and prize ceremony took place last Wednesday, 30 October at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. The jury led by Dikkie Scipio crowned De Meester 2019 winner Ruud van Leeuwen and his project ‘From Hammerbrook to Hammerstadt’. 

An impressive panel of judges, praised Ruud’s ‘extensive, refreshingly illustrated study in which all conceivable current questions, from sustainable mobility to decentralised waste processing, ecology, water and climate-proof living are answered in an ambitious way.’

Organized by the Fleur Groenendijk Foundation in collaboration with Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design, De Meester award aims to highlight and promote work of young architecture graduates in the Netherlands, giving them a platform to present themselves to larger audiences and make a debut within the professional sphere.This edition also marks the fifth and last year of Dikkie Scipio presiding as jury chairman for the award. During her tenure, she sought out to highlight the work of recent graduates that shows social and contextual relevance, craftsmanship, and a clear vision.

Explore the winning project here.
Photographs of the event by Rhalda Jansen Photography.

23/10 2019

ISMO wins Trophée béton 2019

Among more than 200 entries, Institut des Sciences Moléculaires d’Orsay is one of 10 projects awarded the Trophée béton – a prize that distinguishes architectural achievements where concrete plays a key role; honouring architects, clients and structural and prefabrication companies.

Robust and elegant, while essentially open in character, ISMO building is distinguished by a harmonic coexistence of nature and scientific research. It unites two architecturally expressed realms, housing theoretical and practical research, into a single entity.

Consistent facade treatment unifies complementing approaches and activities that coexist within the institution. Sturdily stacked, smooth, pre-fab concrete posts and lintels protrude 80cm from the facade shading the interior from the sun.

Explore the full project here.

Photographs by Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.

25/09 2019

Construction starts on Loenen Pavilion

Yesterday’s festive ceremony at the National Field of Honour marked the beginning of construction on the multifunctional Loenen Pavilion.

KAAN Architecten was commissioned  by The Netherlands War Graves Foundation to design a new multifunctional memorial and education centre at the National Field of Honour in Loenen. The main focus of the centre will be to tell stories about Dutch war victims, the efforts of Dutch people during World War II and current international peace missions.

The pavilion will act as a connecting element between the new National Veterans Cemetery and the existing Field of Honour. The landscape, originally designed in 1949 by garden and landscape architect D. Haspels and extended by Karres + Brands, is characterised by the contrast between open spaces and the dense forest.

The rich woods, existing routes and the scenic qualities of this exceptional site have been used to underline the unifying role of the building.

The completion of the project and the official opening are set for next year. Explore the full project here.


18/09 2019

Utopia to participate in the Day of Architecture 2019 in Flanders

Utopia Library and Academy for Performing Arts in Aalst will be open to the public as a part of the Flemish Day of Architecture (Dag van de Architectuur). This Sunday, 22 September from 13.00-17.00h, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the vibrant new landmark in the city.

Day of Architecture is just one of many events taking place during the week long Festival of Architecture from 21 – 27 September. Organized by the Flemish Architecture Institute, the festival focuses on the quality of the designed space as the result of an open conversation in which designers, policy makers and residents meet. The program builds a bridge between all these actors and encourages everyone to think about a well-designed environment and how they can contribute to it.

Find out more information here.

06/09 2019

Save the date for De Meester 2019

The fifth edition of De Meester event and prize ceremony will take place on Wednesday, 30 October 2019. Join for an evening of dynamic discussions!

Organized by the Fleur Groenendijk Foundation in collaboration with Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design and under the guidance of Dikkie Scipio, the De Meester award aims to highlight and promote work of young architecture graduates in the Netherlands.

Serving as jury leader, Dikkie Scipio has assembled an impressive panel of judges comprising Dirk Jan Postel, partner at Kraaijvanger Architects; Harm Tilman, editor-in-chief of De Architect; Victor Mani, former dean of MSA Münster, and visual artist Joep van Lieshout.

During the evening ceremony, the jury will see project presentations by 3 nominees who will be selected out of 11 graduates of the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design.

Location to be announced. In the meantime, click here to register for the event.

19/08 2019

Conveying vibrancy and energy of CUBE

CUBE Education and Self Study Centre at Tilburg University will soon welcome new students for the second academic year since opening in 2018. To mark the occasion, the project has been reinterpreted through a publication by KAAN Architecten.

With its regular A4 size and wide central stitch binding, reminiscent of a typical school notebook, the publication was designed as a nod to the building’s programme.

The vitality of a university centre is conveyed using an energetic colour for both the cover and inside diagrams. The central spread of the book mimics the vibrancy of the study plaza as the heart of CUBE. Meanwhile, the elegance and robustness of the building is evoked by the clarity of the layout and supporting graphics.

The book features an original text by Kees Kaan, published both in English and in Dutch, while photographs by Simone Bossi and Sebastian van Damme capture the symbiotic atmosphere of the building and its users.

Browse the full publication here.

15/08 2019

KAAN Architecten enters dialogue phase for the renovation of Boijmans museum

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the municipality of Rotterdam have selected three architectural firms that will continue to work on their ideas on how to shape the ambitious renovation of the museum in the coming months. Among the selected are KAAN Architecten in association with Van Hoogevest Architecten, Mecanoo and David Chipperfield Architects with WDJ Architecten.

The European tender for architect selection was published in May 2019, after which an assessment committee of experts in the field of restoration, renovation and museum environments has unanimously chosen the aforementioned offices for the so-called dialogue phase.

The committee consists of Chief Government Architect Floris Alkemade, architect André van Stigt, former Director of the Cultural Heritage Agency Cees van ‘t Veen, director of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and experts from the municipality of Rotterdam.

The assignment is not to design an entirely new building, but to make a design for the renovation, restoration and sustainability of the existing building and the associated outdoor space. The selected offices will be in talks with the museum and the municipality in the coming months. The members of the committee will then jointly decide on one architect. This definitive choice is expected in January 2020.

The museum has since closed its doors to the public and preparations are being made to make the museum building asbestos-free. Mid-2020 the city council will decide on the extent to which the museum will be renovated.

Read the full press release here.

Photograph courtesy of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

24/07 2019

KAAN Architecten set to restore a cultural oasis in Brazil

KAAN Architecten has been commissioned with restoring the current headquarters of Fundação Marcos Amaro (FMA) and the associated cultural centre Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro (FAMA) housed in an old textile factory with historical and cultural relevance to the city.

Located in Itú, 100 km from São Paulo, FAMA aims to preserve and promote contemporary artistic expressions within the city and state of São Paulo. It operates far beyond the usual constraints of a museum, offering ateliers, workshops and artist residences, enabling full immersion into research and creation. In addition to FAMA headquarters, the complex also displays Marcos Amaro’s art collection and part of the collection from Museum of Contemporary Latin American Sculpture (MESCLA).

In order to materialise FAMA’s ideals, KAAN Architecten was tasked with converting the old São Pedro factory grounds into a state-of-the-art cultural centre.

Fma2019 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]


Previously a cotton mill for the Companhia Fiação e Tecelagem São Pedro established in 1911, the complex was designed by Louis Marins Amirat, a French-Brazilian master builder, who introduced Itú to a branch of architecture analogous to what was happening in Europe at that time. He brought innovation by applying proper brick masonry construction resulting in monumental facades with refined finishing.

As the building represents significant industrial heritage within the city, the assignment is far more complex than designing a functional ensemble. Besides implementing the highest developments in sustainability and adapting the building to museum requirements, the design proposed by KAAN Architecten will create dialogue with the historic layers that have been part of the structure for more than a century, fortifying this cultural oasis in Itú.

Read more about FMA and FAMA here.

23/07 2019

Colour and light come through in KMSKA

Just before the summer holidays, photographer Karin Borghouts made her way to the construction site of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp to capture the progress. Explore the photo report below!

Bright wall colours have been reinstated, along with wooden floors and door trims, bringing the historic halls of KMSKA a step closer to their original look.

Meanwhile, progress has been made within the new ‘vertical’ museum where both large and small exhibition halls are being finished.

Photographs by Karin Borghouts. Click the link for more information.

10/07 2019

Inside the KAAN Architecten Studio Visit

Last Friday, 5 July, KAAN Architecten hosted a Studio Visit in collaboration with Het Nieuwe Instituut which elaborated on the design, building and communication methodology in the modern day practice. Photo report below takes you inside the event.

The event kicked off with an introduction by Kees Kaan, followed by an exploration of the layered process behind the making of the office’s projects. Divided into four phases – competition, design, construction and communication; the visitors got to participate in a series of interactive sessions in which architects shared tools and techniques as well as personal anecdotes relating to each project phase.

Photographs by Narine Gyulkhasyan (KAAN Architecten).

09/07 2019

Fifth New Amsterdam Courthouse photo report is out now!

In her latest photo report, photographer Dominique Panhuysen captures the progress made during past six months at the New Amsterdam Courthouse construction site.

As showcased in the previous issue, the building started to rise above ground with first facade columns being put in place. In the past months, the remainder of 22-metre high facade columns, spanning all the way up to fifth floor, have been set up and first glass panels mounted. This phase is also marked by the completion of the concrete structure of the public area.

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.

24/06 2019

Studio Visit at KAAN Architecten

In an ongoing series of Studio Visits hosted and curated by architectural offices in collaboration with Het Nieuwe Instituut, KAAN Architecten will open their doors and invite professionals, students and the broader public to cross the threshold, take a peek into the office and join the conversation. Save the date on 5 July!

In a recent lecture, co-founder Kees Kaan anticipated a reinstatement of the architect’s position in a highly collaborative field. “Today, design practice is all about explaining the project to numerous stakeholders,” he said. “Architects are used to negotiating, dealing with criticism, and explaining things. New 3D-modelling techniques, which allow the rapid production of multiple variations, diagrams, spreadsheets and presentations, have enabled architects to be in control of the design process once more.”

In this context, this Studio Visit will offer insight into how KAAN Architecten positions itself in a shifting architectural practice, from DBFMO (design, build, finance, maintain and operate) tenders to the use of new design techniques in the office. Participants will be introduced to the studio through a series of interactive sessions in which architects will uncover the layered process behind the making of the office’s projects.

More information on tickets and the programme can be found at the link.

Photograph by Simone Bossi.

21/06 2019

Listen to Change – Eyes and Ears of the City

Ahead of the 2019 Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB), titled “Urban Interactions”, Kees Kaan joins the collective discussion on the evolving relationship between cities and technology. 

Opening in December 2019 in Shenzhen, China, UABB will feature two shows run by two independent curatorial teams. The “Eyes of the City” section, curated by MIT professor Carlo Ratti, investigates the way digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence will impact both urban life and architectural practices. In his statement as Foundational Contributor, Kees Kaan discusses what happens when the sensor-imbued city acquires the ability to see – almost as if it had eyes.

Digital technology in the Information Age, and all its offspring, are having a significantly different effect on our lives than previous technological revolutions had. With the possibility to develop and produce in different and quicker ways, these new technologies allow us to use what we already have in a completely different manner. New technologies bear the promise of a more sustainable life.

The space that we move in will be aware of our presence and actions, and the vehicles we drive and the tools we use will be connected and communicate with us and each other directly. This opens a perspective on previously unimaginable possibilities of a different daily life coming true in the existing urban space. The future will not only be made of new buildings and spaces but will also reveal an entirely different use to what is already there.

Architects are ultimately interested in urban change caused by new ways of living and working, new infrastructure and urban facilities and different uses and management of public spaces. To be able to design for an unknown future we need to develop a proper understanding or informed intuition of this change. To predict the future based on what we know and can imagine today is hardly possible. However, it is possible to get a better understanding of what is already there and from that point onwards to identify and understand what is likely to change and what is not. Only then can we start to speculate on how to recover the future with architecture.

For planners/architects/designers, the challenge is to translate the impact of rapid changes – especially on energy, mobility, health and leisure – into planning and design questions. The question for us is: “how can the City of the Future be imagined? How can those smart innovations be introduced into the domain of architecture and urban design?”

By using Amsterdam as a living laboratory, graduate students, researchers and teachers have been exploring how these changes might affect this city. We aim to understand the structure of today’s Amsterdam, to explore possible future scenarios and to speculate on new architectural types and new ways of living in this city. By listening to the changes from the past, we foresee what is then coming.”

Find more information about the Biennale here.

06/06 2019

Day of Architecture and Day of Construction with KAAN Architecten

On Saturday, 15 June 2019, KAAN Architecten will participate in both the Day of Architecture and the Day of Construction. To mark this special day, our flagship projects in Rotterdam and Amsterdam will be open to the public.

From 11.00-17.00 h, guided tours will take place at De Bank, the Rotterdam office of KAAN Architecten. Meanwhile in Amsterdam, on the construction site of the new Courthouse, the project team will host the visitors from 10.00-16.00h and introduce the design of the building.

Explore the events here (Day of Architecture, Day of Construction)

03/06 2019

Work on KMSKA continues

Photographer Karin Borghouts continues her periodical visits to the site of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp where she captures instances of the ongoing renovation and extension. Explore the full photo report below!

Since the last construction update, major progress has been made with both the historical and the new museum taking shape. The complete overhaul of Antwerp’s prestigious institution aims to restore the original routing and decorations dignifying the intrinsic qualities of the space, while the new extension enriches the museum experience through contemporary practices.

Photographs by Karin Borghouts.