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Model, a necklace of assorted public spaces.
Model, a necklace of assorted public spaces.

1. Existing programme of the present 'Stopera'. 2. Hard urban borders achieved by turning the programme inside. 3. Borders blurred by adding a public network of differing climatic conditions.
1. Existing programme of the present 'Stopera'. 2. Hard urban borders achieved by turning the programme inside. 3. Borders blurred by adding a public network of differing climatic conditions.

Site plan
Site plan

Interior view of public route, a chain of assorted public spaces.
Interior view of public route, a chain of assorted public spaces.

Left: Distant view from Staalstraat. Right: Near view from Meester Visserplein.
Left: Distant view from Staalstraat. Right: Near view from Meester Visserplein.

Ground floor plan, increasingly private by degrees. The darker the plan, the more private the programme.
Ground floor plan, increasingly private by degrees. The darker the plan, the more private the programme.

Left: The mass, recognizable representative building. Right: The public network
Left: The mass, recognizable representative building. Right: The public network

Curve along the Amstel River.
Curve along the Amstel River.




PROJECTINDEX
 
REVERSED BOOGIE WOOGIE
Academie van Bouwkunst Amsterdam
ARCHITECTURE

A new design for the Amsterdam Stopera
Reversed Boogie Woogie is a city in the city, a building in the city and at the same time a city in a building; a project in which the borders between architecture and urban design are sought, transgressed or mislaid, giving rise to entirely new and unprecedented links between the two.
Reversed Boogie Woogie is a proposal to replace the building popularly known as the Stopera. The design gives it the same duties it has now – the Town Hall, the Netherlands Opera House, the marketplace in Waterlooplein and the metro station of that name – and the same site. The brief grew out of the sense of irritation the present building produces in me and in many other locals and visitors to the city. I have had to disappoint no end of enquiring tourists with the fact that the hulking great affair imperiously blocking the flow of urban space really is Amsterdam Town Hall.

A town hall is a key component of a city, housing its administrative heart. This is where decisions are taken and the course of the city is set. For those reasons it should be a signature building that matches the splendour of the city as well as its public duty. Thanks to changes in the balance of power of the city administration in recent centuries, every citizen should now feel welcome. The town hall belongs to everyone – which is why the building should be of an open and inviting nature. Ideally, the town hall should be part of city life. The building's additional duties – opera house, metro station and market – are a means towards achieving that end. The brief adds a further paradox: it calls for a vast building that still manages to incorporate the fine grain of Amsterdam's inner city.
The design is predicated on the idea of acknowledging the scale of this big hybrid building, instead of trying to conceal its great size by dividing it up into smaller parts as is often done in the old inner city. The programme is too large for its context, and to deny this in any way will do nothing to change it. Its size will have be reduced on another level.
Its dimensions are in fact increased to give a signature building that is readily identifiable. Next the building's mass is hollowed out from the inside so that it can connect with the urban structure round about and itself become permeable and inviting. Surrounding routes are drawn through the building in a necklace of public squares, ante spaces and between-spaces, so that the building is made a bearer of new public space accessing the assorted public duties located in it. This also gives the building its fine grain enabling it to lock firmly into the surrounding urban fabric. The many entrances and the views in afforded by the public routes running through the building give it an expression of thorough permeability.
The chain of public spaces constituting the route are sometimes outdoors (squares) to stress the building's public nature, sometimes semi-outdoors in the form of a colonnade (ante spaces) and sometimes indoors (spaces between rooms) to stitch the route to the building. The relationship between windows and opaque surfaces give those walking through the building simple but effective information about whether or not a particular service is public. Conditions alternate to blur the border between inside and outside. Public space bleeds into semi-public space which in turn seeks to link into the non-public components of the programme. Thus, for example, the town hall is organized around the town hall square, located where all routes intersect. The most public components – town hall lobby, service windows and public meeting rooms – are located on the square. Directly behind these are the services related to them but less publicly accessible, such as the council chamber and the marriage rooms. The opera house square is the first square encountered when entering the building from the south-east, which is where most opera-goers enter the building. Routes, squares and the attendant public duties constitute the building's static programme components. The surrounding private programme, the mass, is more fluid by nature and is interchangeable should the duties it contains require it.

A building-city or a city-building? The project is set so precisely on the border between urbanism and architecture that it is impossible to say whether it is one or the other.