Zuidwijk De Burgen nominated for Rotterdam Architecture Award 2012
The urban design and dwellings project will be competing for the yearly Dutch prize.
To vote for KAAN Architecten’s project please follow this link
The urban design and dwellings project will be competing for the yearly Dutch prize.
To vote for KAAN Architecten’s project please follow this link
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.
Past Sunday, 21 June, marked the second year since the official opening of Utopia Library and Academy for Performing Arts in Aalst.
The opening festivities in 2018 spanned 4 days and attracted more than 25 000 visitors who participated in concerts, workshops and dance performances. Since the grand opening, Utopia has been established as a cultural landmark of the city of Aalst, thriving on the inextricable link with its citizens and a delicate mixture of seemingly opposite programs it comprises.
Below we look back at the atmosphere of the opening weekend captured by Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti.
Photographer Toon Grobet takes us through the historical and new museum spaces of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, capturing the soon-to-be finished interiors of the exhibition halls. Take a look at the latest update from the construction site of KMSKA.
The inside of the historical museum has been brought back to its original look by reinstating bright wall colours, mosaic floors and wall trimmings, while a grand staircase has been installed at the entrance.
Hidden in the heart of the old building, a new vertical museum arises, offering a contrasting spatial experience. Large and small exhibition halls, hidden rooms, horizontal and vertical sightlines and varying gradations of daylight, the new extension charts a route full of surprising experiences.
Photographs by Toon Grobet.
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.
Photographs by Dominique Panhuysen.
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.
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.
Over the years, KAAN Architecten has achieved many fruitful collaborations with artists whose mediums of expression, among others, include painting, sculpture, furniture and lighting design. The central part of these collaborations is creating dialogue between the designed space and the artwork.
The artworks are never regarded just as stationary objects placed in space for the sole purpose of being admired. Their purpose is to enhance or contrast the atmosphere; to integrate with the scale, perspective and light which, in turn, determine the users’ experience of space.
Regarded as the heart of the public area, the atrium of renovated office building B30 in The Hague has been allocated for art. An invitation was extended to an artist to create a mosaic or floor pattern that visualises the magic of this space. Artist Rob Birza designed a pattern inspired by images from his travels, but which can be read as a garden abstraction. It has become the internal garden in a series of three gardens that traverse the building. The artwork has been beautifully executed by Van der Zande Terrazo & Mozaiek, in natural and precious stones, in combination with terrazzo concrete. The scale of the imagery is elusive, but at the same time, it manages to attune itself to the perspective of the beholder and the proportions of the space they occupy in that experience.
In projects such as the Supreme Court and Crematorium Siesegem large scale paintings enhance the formal and solemn atmosphere of the spaces. ‘Hoge Raad’ by painter Helen Verhoeven was specifically commissioned for the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. The 4×6,5m painting reflects themes of law and justice by depicting a densely populated courtroom in which the walls are covered with (art-) historical references to the development of the Dutch legal system and constitution.
Meanwhile, the 6x6m painting by Belgian artist Rinus van de Velde is the focal point of a long zenithally lit corridor of Crematorium Siesegem. In his characteristic haunting strokes of black and white, the painting depicts the symbolic crossing of the river, aproppriate for the programme of the building.
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.
Similarly, the colourful wooden sculptures by Stephan Balkenhol stand out against the classically symmetrical building of the District Water Board in Brabantse Delta. The wood for the 4 statues came from two oak trees that stood on the edge of the estate and were removed to make way for the renovation. The group of sculptures is characteristic of Balkenhol’s work – mundane human figures on a bulky pedestal, painted in simple colours, appearing both living and inanimate at the same time.
Earlier this year, construction started on the three new office buildings for iCampus in Munich’s Werksviertel district, whose facades have been designed by KAAN Architecten. The new development blends existing industrial and office buildings with a new contemporary layer, dedicated to the creative industry.
Within the past months, groundwork has commenced to accommodate the combined underground parking of the Alpha, Beta and Gamma buildings. The structure and floorplans have been designed by RKW Architektur +, while the facade design by KAAN Architecten will underline and support the identity of the buildings to consolidate and unite the Werksviertel aesthetic, while at the same time being iconic within in its own way
Working on existing heritage with care and respect, and treating the historical context in its broadest form, is a central theme in KAAN Architecten’s thinking on architecture.
Over the last 20 years, the office has designed more than 40 projects related to renovation and restoration of built heritage. Whether it is an interior renovation such as De Bank, the office’s new headquarters in Rotterdam, or the addition of a new structure as in Erasmus MC Education Centre, the guiding principles are the same.
Complex interventions on buildings of different periods must always present a clear hierarchy between the old and the new. The contemporary should not override the existing, but nevertheless ensure a comparable dignity, highlighting the monumental and the original. In this way, the new provides knowledge of the past.
The Education Center is part of the Rotterdam academic hospital Erasmus MC, originally designed in 1965 by Arie Hagoort (OD205) in collaboration with Jean Prouvé. Following the essence of the original design, the second floor has been reintroduced as the main floor and entrance of the complex. Since its completion in 2013, the new building has merged all medical student programmes within the education square with a pattern of study islands spanned by a large, glazed roof structure. The flexibility of the column-free space allows it to admit different functions. As such, the Education Centre has recently been transformed into a Dutch national coordination centre for corona patient distribution.
Among such projects is also Central Post in Rotterdam which has been was transformed into a contemporary and multifunctional office building. Due to the modernization of the postal process, the building fell into disuse. Through exterior restoration and transformation of the interior, 90% increase in floor area was achieved and the building was granted a Class A Energy Label. It is currently one of the five most sustainable buildings in the Netherlands. Last year it has also been categorized as a national monument by the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency.
Meanwhile, B30 a closed hierarchical building in The Hague, has been transformed into a contemporary and state-of-the-art working environment through a clear spatial configuration and additive design. Originally designed in 1917 as a ministry building, B30 is now an imposing structure with a distinct architectural character and is a Grade 1 listed building in the Netherlands.
More recently, the office has been commissioned to restore, renovate and extend two highly regarded museums – Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn and Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Both projects aim to improve and expand the visitor experience as well as highlight the grandeur of the existing institutions. With extensive photo reports from the construction sites, KAAN Architecten brings continuous coverage of updates on both projects – find the most recent ones here and here.
Placed in the artwork freight elevator of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the camera charts a route full of surprising experiences within the historical and the new museum.
To get a sense of the scale, consider that the inside of the elevator measures 5,3 by 4 m with 3,6 m height. The mesmerizing still shots take you through a sequence of large and small exhibition halls, hidden rooms, horizontal and vertical sightlines and varying gradations of daylight. These rare observations could only be filmed during construction and before closing the elevator shaft.