De campus als publiek domein - Rooilijn

De campus als publiek domein - Rooilijn


Jg. 42 / Nr. 4 / 2009

clever, it becomes possible to trade functions. In the

end, the building stays alive much longer. Far too often

a building has just one function and we cannot change

it when the context has changed.”

How do you interpret the existing place of the REC?

“To keep this building at the REC and to reinvent it,

was a very good decision. In that sense, it is almost

the opposite of the general danger of conservation.

The danger of all our good intentions (by rules about

aesthetics – red.) lies in the fact that it becomes too

difficult to regenerate historical cities for all kinds of

people. The consequence is that we build places outside

of the city for the workers and all the rich people live in

the middle of Amsterdam. Although this is my London

experience, I think it is a general danger. To freeze a

city, for example by saying 1972 is the end of all changes,

then inevitably that part becomes more and more

valuable. It becomes more and more expensive. In the

end, anyone who works in Amsterdam and makes the

city happen, ends up living outside. I am not against

preservation, but I think it can kill the city.”

So your design is the opposite of preservation?

“Physically the REC has a powerful impression. But

the building is tired now. When I was walking around

this building I remembered the 1960s. I could see the

ambition of the past times. Nowadays, this ambition has

been lost because of all the changes inside and outside

the complex. For me the strengths and weaknesses are

very clear. I have called it an ‘elegant banality’.”

“If you start a project, very often it looks fantastic at

the beginning. The danger is you are either losing

your eye or repeating something you already know

which is comfortable, lazy even. I like it more to

work in a project that may at times appear dubious.

It creates nice challenges. Architects need buildings

that are difficult at times because it means you are

asking difficult questions.”

What is the most difficult question for restructuring

the REC?

“This building at the Nieuwe Achtergracht has a super

large scale. It is a modernist building in the middle of

“The challenge is to make the Roeterseiland part of the city”

P. 250

historic Amsterdam. As one of the few major physical

interventions it stands out: because of it’s remarkably

different scale to the surrounding city. Amsterdam is

particular because it is quite well-preserved. The more

well-preserved a city is, the more likely the danger of

conservation becomes. But cities need functions like a

hospital, a school, a university. So they have to fit them

in. Otherwise the energy of a city disappears. Cities

are built in layers. The different layers cover different

pieces of history. Each layer is another piece of history

on which you have to react differently. Nowadays,

people tend to say that what was built in the 1960s is

wrong and it has to be removed. I think it is not wrong

at all, it is just another piece of history. So to reinvent

a building like the REC is smart to do because you do

not throw away everything.”

What is your strategy to react on this piece of history?

“The REC is part of the grain of the city. It is not a

cloister or a courtyard building. But at the moment

the connections are bad. There are no reasons to walk

into it. The only people who go there are students and

staff. It is such a particular world. Therefore potentially

it becomes a dead end. The danger is that it becomes a

monoculture dislocated urbanity: the opposite of what

people like if they are in a city: a rich mix and multiculture.

The challenge is to make the REC part of the city

and to employ different forms of use. Otherwise why

build it in a city?”

Which interventions are necessary for the connection

of the REC to the city?

“The building over the water is a dead end. Visually

it says ‘do not come in’. People do not go from there

to the zoo, so it functions as a barrier. Whatever you

put behind it. To get more movement you need a

multilayered programme. The first intervention is to

cut a big hole in that part of the building crossing the

water so suddenly people enter a new world. Our job is

to remake the connection in the buildings, the entrance

and the crossing of the water as well as to make the connection

to the Sarphatistraat and Artis.

“The second intervention has to do with the assignment.

It is not especially a university building. We

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