Benthem Crouwel Architects design new Stedelijk Museum (NL)

The Mayor and Aldermen of Amsterdam and the Board of Supervisors of the Stedelijk Museum (presently in formation) have decided to have the renovation and expansion of the Museum performed by the Amsterdam architects Benthem Crouwel. Their provisional draft plan has convincingly moved both these groups to unanimity in this choice. In making this selection they have also followed the unanimous advice of the jury.

Beginning in June 2004, after a Europe-wide selection procedure, five architectural agencies went to work on preparing provisional draft plans for the new building and renovation of the Stedelijk Museum on Museumplein in Amsterdam. In early August the five -- Herman Hertzberger Architectural Studio, Benthem Crouwel Architects, Henket & Partners Architects, Diederen Dirrix van Wylick Architects and Claus and Kaan Architects -- submitted their designs.

These were evaluated by a jury comprised of Maarten Kloos (director ARCAM), Max van Rooy (architecture journalist), Wim Quist, Sjoerd Soeters (architects), Wim Pijbes (director Kunsthal Rotterdam), Toon Verhoef (artist), Hans van Beers (interim-director Stedelijk Museum) and Herman van Vliet (on behalf of Mayor and Alderman and chairman), after the staff of the Museum rendered their advice.

The jury report states, ‘With its surprising climax in a plaza in front of the new main entrance, the bold-looking plan also affords the best urban planning solution. The design by Benthem Crouwel architects is so powerful that the desired change in orientation of the museum ensemble toward the Museumplein takes place as a natural consequence. The new entrance area, along with the adjoining public spaces like the knowledge centre, shop and restaurant, forms a large, open, transparent space against the background of the red brick of the fully visible and unaltered old building.’
It continues, ‘Benthem Crouwel have succeeded in giving form to the concept of ‘unity in duality’ in a most superior way. That is a question of architecture. Moreover, they have been gloriously successful in turning the face of the Stedelijk Museum toward the Museumplein. That is a question of urban design. In both fields, with this design Benthem Crouwel prove themselves masters of their craft.’

The recently appointed Director, Gijs van Tuyl, was also able to evaluate the plans before the final decision was made, and is enthusiastic. ‘This design looks toward the future, looks toward the Stedelijk Museum as a top-ranked international player. I have always dreamed of a plaza in front of the Museum. The openness of this design makes it more than actual. It is good for the Museum and it is good for this special place in the city. I’m very happy with it.’

This coming year the design sketch by Benthem Crouwel will be developed into a definitive plan, and preparations for executing it will be undertaken. Construction begins in 2006. The Museum is to be ready to open to the public again in 2008.

The sketch designs of all the five architects are to be seen as of September 9 in the temporary museum building, Stedelijk Museum CS, on Oosterdokskade 5.

Source: Stedelijk Museum

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