Breda-04: Seminar on 22je94 UIA/UNESCO Seminar Breda 1994: Re-allocation of buildings 04 Seminar 22/23je94

Summary of the plenary discussions of 20-21 June 1994

The central theme of the seminar (re-use of buildings for cultural/educational purposes) can be looked at in a lot of different ways. The 2 most important are:

  1. Starting with the building. What is it's architectural quality?

  2. Starting with the (cultural/educational) functions. What are the needed (architectural) quality and costs for these functions to be housed in the old buildings?

From both angles the central question is: How can we find incentives to stimulate re-allocation?


  1. Re-use is more difficult then building new, because of the regulations (restrictikf(,building regulations, townplans, complex decision-making processes in areas with a lot of people living there).

  2. Facadism, as a result of the circumstances in which the authorities demand that the facade cannot be changed, does not give good (architectural) solutions.

  3. The cost of re-using a monument, related to the cost of a new building is often higher.

  4. The quality of the existing buildings knows different appreciations from the different participants in the decision-making process.

  5. Technical sustainability doesn't imply functional/architectural sustainability, but a re-usable building (from a functional/architectural point of view) can be at the end of iiXs technical lifetime.

  6. Architects often get involved too late, namely after the building has been demolished already instead of during the decision making process whether to re-allocate or demolish the building.

  7. Educational institutions must be in a city, always nearby public transport.

  8. Educational institutions get 100% independance (specially financial) for there housing; nobody can control them if they want to demolish their buildings.

  9. The need for educational schoolbuildings will fluctuate, due to the dynamic character of education nowadays, partly as a result of the developments in the field of information-technology.

  10. Direct restrictions or subsidies have nasty side-effects.

  11. Schools are always poor.

  12. A relative extreme high landprice, like in Japan, doesn't stimulate re-use of buildings, because the financial difference is nothing compared to the price of the land.

  13. Investors think that having a multi-purpose building is only better than no


1 4- - Creating new concepts is difficult by the re-use of old buildings.

1 5 There is a lack of insight in, thus not calculated, all the environmental costs

made by constructing and demolishing buildings.

1 6 - Authorities can manipulate for other reasons the decision-making process,

so re-use of worthwhile buildings (even financially feasible) sometimes won't take place.


1 More flexibility in regulations makes re-use just as easy posible as new


  1. Better communicating the quality of existing buildings to users and authorities.

  2. In the long term: all the environmental costs concerning building and demolishing should be integrated in the decision-making process.

  3. Urban contexts showing love between old and new buildings.

  4. More subsidies for re-allocation.

  5. Make schoolboards more aware of the need for sustainability.

  6. Organize competitions in building schools with sustainable quality (for re­use).

  7. Organize a bridge, between re-usable buildings and possible functions, with operational information (e.g. a bank for real estate objects).

  8. Doing pilot-projects.

  9. Subsidization by tax-regulation (reducing ground-tax).

  10. Competitions for a general growing awareness about the environment.

  11. Re-allocation must be thought about as a new discipline in education and research: re-interpretation of culture; back to the future.

Amsterdam excursion 22 June 1994

07.00 take your seats in the touringcar in front of Hotel Brabant

07.15 departure for Amsterdam

09.00 visit to the International Institute of Social History

The institute is housed in a former Amsterdam wharehouse. The architect Hans van Beek is responsible for the refurbishment and will lead a tour in the building and its surroundings.

10.45 departure of the touringcar

11.00 visit to the the former Gerardus Majella Church

This church was turned into the International Information Centre and Archives for the Women's Movement (arch. Andre van Stigt, 1993).

12.15 departure of the touringcar

12.30 luncheon at the restaurant 'De Ponteneur' in a former primary

school; the architect Nico Andriessen made the scheme

14.00 departure of the touringcar

(during this drive note two remarkable buildings from the touringcar:

  • the former office building 'the Black Box', that was adapted for higher education: the HES (College of Economics);

  • the tax-office building, that will be adapted for higher education: several faculties of the Hogeschool Amsterdam and some related units of the University of Amsterdam)

14.15 visit to the former headquarters of the Amstelbrewery, built ± 1927

The adaption and renovation for a unit of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Fashion Management and Design, is just finished. The former beercellar will be visited.

15.15 departure of the touringcar

15.30 visit to the 'Rijksacademie', (National Academy of Fine Arts)

The architect Koen van Velzen made the design for refurbishment and extension of the former Cavalry Barracks (1863) in 1992

17.00 departure for the BNA-office

17.30 reception offered by the BNA

18.30 embarkment for a canalcruise to the Hilton restaurant,

where dinner will be served


22.00 departure for Hotel Brabant

International Institute of Social History

The activities of the International Institute of Social History (IISH) concern the collecting, indexing, presenting, conserving, researching and publishing of millions of documents reflecting two centuries of social thinking and industrial conflict. These activities requir a large amount of space and in 1984 the housing of the IISH was too small and hardly suited for the needs of the institute. At the same time the city of Amsterdam faced the task to redevelop an area known as the Eastern Docks, practically abandoned since harbour activities had moved to the Western Docks. In the Eastern Docks area the wharehouse 'Koning Willem II' stood empty. The City Administration suggested the IISH to look it over.

The wharehouse 'Koning Willem II' was erected in 1961: a heavely reinforced concrete structure, 23 metres in height, its five floor measering 76 x 33 metres and easely sustaining 2.000 - 4.000 kg/m', it served the cacao trade for a quarter of a century. Professor Weegener Sleeswijk, the original architect, had obviously designed a functional building - massive where necessary, as in its 900-1200 mm concrete columns, light were practicable, as in it prefabricated wall elements and steel-supported roof. To provide cranes with easy access to every story without impeding movement on the quay, a huge unloading platform extended from the first floor, which in critical places increased in thickness up to 600 mm. Another plaforn was created by laying back the wall on the upper floor. Floors in between were fitted with giant trap-doors capable of receiving merchandise directly. Two centrally located lifts of impressive proportions provided vertical transport to a railroad platform on the landside. Plainly, once redesigned, the building would qualify as a good place to store tons of paper. Its convenient location was appealing, but its lack of windows and the mean size of the ones it had set in dirty, monotonous walls were a far cry from any kind of elegance. And lingering doubts remained on its supposed merits as the new work-place for IISH's staff and users. However, a survey conducted in 1989 showed that is was indeed possible.

In order to surmount its drab massiveness, from the very start Van Beek, the chief architect, formulated the idea of a 'sweeping spatial gesture, a breach'. In view of the demands set out in the programme, which distinguished between work and storage operations, his first sketch deliniated a transparant, atruim-like hall, stretching diagonally across the entire width of the building, to the left of the main entrance. Allowing deep penetration of daylight trough its nothern glass wall. it was intended as the core around which the public area and most office space would be concentrated. As it would also allow the retention of the impervious aspect of the eastern floor segments, which were mostly assigned storage functions; in fact, this was even enhanced by replacing the trapdoors with elements obtained from glazing the west and south walls.

The basic idea not only prevented monotonous reproduction of the long, uninspired corridors separating exterior offices from the interior storerooms, but also

suggested natural answers to fundamental questions raised by the IISH's programme. The Institute expressly wanted to have its policy of openness

embodied in its residence, presenting a wide range infrastructure for the study of social and economic history to reseachers from all over the world. With an eye to future developments, this called for multi-purpose arrangements for consultation and teaching, conferences and exhibitions.

The hall meets most of these conditions. Light and pleasant, it is an inviting foyer, from which stairs or a lift lead up or down to a reception desk, a bookshop, a cafetaria, a 60-seat conference room, an exhibition floor allowing a glimpse of the bindery and overlooking an outside terrace, four carrells large enough to

accomodate groups or classes and, of course, the reading room. Designed as a set of open, inter-connecting spaces on six or seven levels, the hall offers such possibilities as temporarily transforming the cafeteria into a 200-seat conference room, the bookshop into a registration desk, or the exhibition floor into a reception


The most daring step was devising the atrium on the north side, whose elevation gradually narrows as it rises. Its construction required the removal of part of two floors, exposing 15 metres of the heavy column that suddenly began to look slender, and even svelte after the application of coats of metallic paint. The builing's solid framework made for soaring demolition costs, but permitted the operation without too many adjustments. The floors even proved strong enough to hang the glass front front like a curtain, thus cutting by half the amount of steel needed for its unusually slim buttressing strips. Steel bridges, stairs and railings with their stainless steel tubing, are vaguely reminiscent of the ships once moored at the quay.

The loss of usable floor-space resulting from the atrium's design was compensated by the creation of an new story halfway up the ground floor's 7-metre walls. Most of the former unloading platform remained intact, allotted to the reading room and the Audio-Visual Department. Its western corner protrudes slightly in a soft curve, slanting back trough the glass wall. In the reading room users can now sit at windows overlooking the old dock, or may prefer one of the carrells further inside, most of which were suspended in another move to recoup space without obstructing movement underneath. They are reached by way of a gallery lined with seats that facilitate consultation or study of old works. Decoration is

generally sober: walls of corridors are whitewashed slabs of light-weight porous stone, walls between rooms are papered plasterboard in metal frames.

Though unusual, the entire process was succesfully managed in all stages, both in time and financially. The design process was completed in six months, including specifications. The building process started May 1988 and in February 1989 the storerooms were ready for use, followed by the rest two months later. Never in the entire process was there a danger of exceeding the budget limit of a little over US$ 10 million.

The transformation of a cheerless, ponderous looking wharehouse into a welcoming, multi-functional building is not only an architectural feat. Designers had been given the awesome task of reflecting and expressing the IISH's aims and purposes by providing the building on the Cruqiusweg with an extensive and modern infrastructure for researchers and other interested in the field of social and economic history. In combination with the restructured building's numerous facilities, openness and hospitality guarantee the realization of that goal. It is now up to the users to take full advantage of all these new facilities.

Summarized from 'Moving Marx', 1989, Hans van Beek and Jaap Kloosterman.

The Gerardus Majella church

The church, which is called after an eighteenth-century Italian monk, Gerardus Majella, dates from 1924. The architect was Jan Stuy, who also designed, among other buildings, the Amsterdam Boerhaave Clinic, the Obrecht Church and the Church of St. Agnes.

The rebuilding

In 1990, when it was learned that the owners of the church, the bishopric of Haarlem, had already signed a provisional contract to sell it to a developer who wanted to demolish the church, the local inhabitants, the district of Zeeburg and NV Amsterdams Monumenten Fonds (NV AMP) set about preventing this. The Van Stigt firm of architects carried out a feasibility study and NV AMF looked round for a main tenant. The result of the search was that the church would be rebuilt to house offices, an industrial undertaking and an archive room. The main tenant was the IIAV (International Information Centre and Registry for the Women's Movement).

A start was made with the rebuilding towards the end of 1992. During rebuilding the greatest possible account was taken of the church's qualities as a monument. Its most charecteristic feature, the large area under the dome, was left undisturbed. Elsewhere extra floors were laid, making it necessary to install windows for adequate daylight access on the ground floor. The rebuilding

operation was designed by the architect, Ir. A.J. van Sticht, who was also the architect in charge of the rebuilding of the Vondel Church, the Posthoorn Church, the Entrepot Dock and the Orange-Nassau Barracks.

The Gerardus Majella was opened for its new function in December 1993.

The project

After rebuilding, the former church has 4,000 square metres of floor space, distributed over five storeys. There are lifts at two entrances to the building. More than half of the building, namely about 2,100 square metres, is leased to the IIAV for use as offices, an archive room and a library.

The remaining 1,900 square metres consist of up to 17 variable-size units, ranging from 80 to 300 square metres net floor space. The other lessees are the Clara Wichmann Institute, the Donk firm of lawyers and the Amsterdam Stichting Thuiszorg (Domiciliary Care Association).

From brewery to fashion academy

The office building at the corner of Mauritskade and Andreas Bonnstraat in Amsterdam dates from 1928. The design was done by F.A. Eschauzin and A.J. Ranghout.

The two wings of which the building consists are at a sharp angle to each other. The Mauritskade wing mainly houses the management rooms, the conference room and the reception rooms. The wing on Andreas Bonnstraat houses the offices, the porter's quarters, etc. The basement contains the main reception hall, where the excellent product of this factory is drawn, tasted and enjoyed. The belief in durability is clearly visible here: red floor tiles, steps made of red stone from Comblanchien, palisander and walnut. On the outside we can identify kyanite, hard brick and Bavarian granite.

Re-use and use for a new purpose, namely as a fashion academy, have scarcely affected the original appearance of the building. Because of its necessary functionality an air-conditioning system has been installed and also a modernised lighting system, a data and telecom system and a CAD-design system.

The inside walls of vaults and offices have been pulled down to create larger rooms. A fabrics laboratory has been added and sewing, drawing and design rooms integrated.

The corridor pattern has been retained and shafts for technical purposes added. New toilet facilities have been installed, the entire building has been painted on the inside and the outside walls partially cleaned.

In short: attractive re-use on a relatively low budget.

An utopian artists village in Amsterdam

Is there such a thing as a 'logical' building ? There must be, if were are to believe the architect and the director of the renewed Rijksacademie. The Rijksacademie is now housed in the former Kavalleriekazerne of 1864 (originally the Cavalry Barracks, used as a government medical store from 1889). The building, converted and extended to a design by Koen van Velsen, is logical in that it reflects the art academy's organization in architectural terms. The old oblong building, with its demure facades, seems to enclose a territory of quietness. Inside, people must sort out matters among themselves, especially if we are to judge by the immense number of gathering areas reserved in the plan. The technical workplaces have been set up in the former stables on the ground floor of the old building. The individual studios are situated above them and in the inner courtyard there are two towers that house the studium generale lecture rooms, a library (coordination of knowledge) and the administration (coordination of facilities). The academy's three core components (studios, workshops, central facilities) correspond to its three raisons d'etre: artistic development, the expansion of technical capacities, and dialogue. The individual parts are linked by overhead walkways (altough communication at ground level is still possible, fortunately). With such an all-encompassing interpretation of the artist's métier, one thing is guaranteed: the inhabitant will be immersed in his work at every conceivable moment.

Viewed as a commission, it is difficult to see the Rijksacademie's new buildings as separate from a familiar phenomenon of recent times: the feverish spate of building that has held the cultural sector, especially the fine arts and architecture, in its grip. Museums, colleges, postgraduate facilities and private arts centres all appear to be bursting at their seams in their present accommodation. At least, that seams the most plausible explanation for why they are on the move. But another reason, one just as important in these highly competitive times, is the image of the institute or the person who runs it. 'Culture' seems increasely limited to whatever is noticed - and what is more striking than a glistening new building, preferably one bearing the unmistakable stamp of a noted architect. Build or perish, as the saying goes, in a variant that apparently has the universities in its stranglehold. The justification will come later. Architecture, once the art of the permanent, now finds itself in the uncomfortable role of a purveyor of fast images.

The wish to make performance measurable, to express culture in concretized faci­lities that were meant to make that culture possible, is an observable consequence of this situation. How often are exhibition budgets not slashed, and how often is a cut-down staff not expected to perform the work, in order to fulfill the promise of the architecture? How often are institutes not confronted with a change in subsidizing policy that degrades their considerable investment in building to sheer capital destruction? There is evidently a growing confusion of ends and means.

The Rijksacademie seems to be riding the same merry-go-round as it moves into the complete rebuilt and extended Kavalleriekazerne. Koen van Velsen's design is completely in line with the requirement for architectural spectacle. Walking into the inner courtyard, you are struck by the amazing amount of space Van Velsen has managed to create, in spite of the central building, and by a series of architectural details that are astonishing in their informality and virtually improvised character. From this point of view the new building satisfies today's demands. But the underlying reasons for the academy's move, namely its organizational concept and the condition of its previous accommodation, are more durable principles than those of the cultural market. The building is not for consumption at a single glance. The whole property is too reticent for that, too concealed behind the historic fabric of the city. And the building is too heavely concentrated on the kind of spatial experience that needs a lengthy stay for proper appreciation.

There are quite a few terms in circulation for Dutch institutes that fall part-way education and practice: workplace situations, 'third-phase'-education, post-academic institutes or, as the Rijksacademie has described itself in recent years, an 'institute for practical study'. The last is meant to imply that the participants can engage both in study and in professional practice situations.

Van Velsen: 'We proposed trying to create a working atmosphere in the academy. The idea was for one large workplace. The thought had already been present as an undercurrent at the Rijksacademie and I put it into words to make it more tangible. The concept developed during the discussions, after it became clear to me why the academy had to move. While the academy was spread out over various locations, casual encounters between people were impossible. There was no feeling of being an entity, of working together or of overlapping disciplines. Obviously, technical workplaces have to be provided, but that concept of people meeting and seeing one another is also of great importance. It's not something I dreamed up, but ideas that were already present and which I have been able to put into a concrete form and treat as fundamentals during the building process.'

The organization and circulation structure of the design looks quite clear on paper, but the 'village' makes a practically labyrinthine impression on the unsuspecting visitor. A major idea behind the design was to foster face-to-face contacts and it is true that wherever you can go you can look trough all kinds of apertures and glass divisions and see people walking about in other parts of the complex. However, if you try to chase after them, they will have disappeared before you reach them. Thus it is random encounters that are more likely to be generated here. With over 100 people distributed around more than 7,000 m2, there will inevitably be a certain amount of getting lost and rambling around. So the staff will be given a good 'findability' system and will be equipped with pagers.

from 'An utopian artists' village in Amsterdam' by 0. Bouman and A. Wortmann, 'Archis', 10-1992.

Page started 24se19

Made in Botswana by David Alexander Young 2005-2020. Programme updated 30th September, 2019, 13:14