graduation project 2012 – Academy of Architecture Amsterdam
The city hall is the engine of Amsterdam. This is where decisions are made that determine the direction of the city’s development. A city hall should be a representative and functional building that enhances the city. The city hall has a public function and is part of an urban life. That is why the building must be open and accessible. The addition of various functions such as the opera, metro station and the Waterloo square market can contribute to this.
This graduation project is a reaction to the existing ‘Stopera’, which houses the city hall and opera at Waterloo square in Amsterdam. The Stopera is a building that wants to be public, but does not achieve this. It will never be a real public building due to its composition of separate elements and a connecting street that doesn’t connect anything. Some people are even annoyed by the building.
The starting point for this graduation project is the recognition for the scale of this big, hybrid building. Rather than obscuring its dimensions, the project instead enlarges its size: a big volume, hermetic at first glance, classically proportioned. In urban design terms, the building has sharp boundaries so that it is recognizable from outside and exudes a certain representative quality.
The building connects with surrounding streets, alleys and quays. The volume is hollowed out from these openings. Surrounding routes extend through the building along a sequence of spaces. The building becomes the support structure for a new public space that provides access to its various functions.
The public route is composed of outdoor spaces (squares), semi-outdoor spaces in the form of colonnades or forecourts, and interior spaces (in-between spaces). The alternation of different climate conditions blurs the boundary between inside and outside at building level. The public space transitions into semi-public space, which then connects to the closed program. The relationship between window and blank wall gives the pedestrian simple but effective information about the public nature of the various functions within the building.
A building-city or city-building, a project placed so precisely on the edge between urbanism and architecture that one can no longer say which of the two it concerns.