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Section through the design. The section illustrates how embedding a separately designed entity, the library, generates all kinds of upsets. Yet these can be put to good use. Thus, the library is embedded, the required entrance shifts the library all the way up to the facade, the ground floor window then needs closing off to prevent direct daylight falling on delicate books, the roof needs modifying to let in indirect daylight, and so forth.
Section through the design. The section illustrates how embedding a separately designed entity, the library, generates all kinds of upsets. Yet these can be put to good use. Thus, the library is embedded, the required entrance shifts the library all the way up to the facade, the ground floor window then needs closing off to prevent direct daylight falling on delicate books, the roof needs modifying to let in indirect daylight, and so forth.

Second floor plan. Here we can observe the embedding of autonomously designed spaces and the resulting particularities: a logical connection needs making between the various spaces and in-between or leftover space is the perfect means to achieve it.
Second floor plan. Here we can observe the embedding of autonomously designed spaces and the resulting particularities: a logical connection needs making between the various spaces and in-between or leftover space is the perfect means to achieve it.

Ground floor plan. Observe how the existing structure has to step back to allow the autonomously designed spaces of library, stair and entrance hall to successfully work together in a visitor route.
Ground floor plan. Observe how the existing structure has to step back to allow the autonomously designed spaces of library, stair and entrance hall to successfully work together in a visitor route.

Section through the sequence, showing the designed visitor route leading through existing and newly implemented spaces.
Section through the sequence, showing the designed visitor route leading through existing and newly implemented spaces.

Perspective view of the stair. The form of the designed stair puts it out of step with the rectangular structure of the existing building and into a curious relationship with the existing window.
Perspective view of the stair. The form of the designed stair puts it out of step with the rectangular structure of the existing building and into a curious relationship with the existing window.

Perspective view of the reading corner. This space is left over after inserting the library into the existing building, but is defined as autonomous space for creating reading nooks in the rhythm of the fenestration.
Perspective view of the reading corner. This space is left over after inserting the library into the existing building, but is defined as autonomous space for creating reading nooks in the rhythm of the fenestration.

Perspective view of entrance hall and café. The embedded entrance hall is tuned to the rhythm of existing 17th-century beams, which are used to rhythmically articulate the space.
Perspective view of entrance hall and café. The embedded entrance hall is tuned to the rhythm of existing 17th-century beams, which are used to rhythmically articulate the space.

Perspective view of a reading niche. Lack of space on the ground floor means placing the wall of books along the facade. Rather than accepting blind windows as a consequence I have pushed the library space through the openings to establish small workspaces within the thickness of the wall. These mediate between inside and outside as articulated pochés.
Perspective view of a reading niche. Lack of space on the ground floor means placing the wall of books along the facade. Rather than accepting blind windows as a consequence I have pushed the library space through the openings to establish small workspaces within the thickness of the wall. These mediate between inside and outside as articulated pochés.




PROJECTINDEX
WINNER
IN ANSWER TO VERSAILLES
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
ARCHITECTURE

A Cautious Manifesto for Empirical Architecture
The design for a new spatial configuration for the Senate (Eerste Kamer) of the States General of the Netherlands steps off from an empirical approach based on the way we perceive small discrete components.
The Binnenhof is a medieval stronghold that has been thrown together bit by bit over the centuries into the complex we have now. This disorderly assemblage has served as the country’s administrative centre for over 800 years. Despite its extraordinary quality, multiple plans have been drawn up throughout those centuries to demolish the existing complex entirely and replace it with palaces for monarchy or democracy. None of these sweeping changes ever took place, however, so rather than perpetuating this none too rewarding tradition I propose further developing the qualities of this enduring medieval structure as it is. This leaves the question of what it is we are to develop further: what are we to call this iconoclastic architectural phenomenon?
In The Poetics of a Wall Projection, Jan Turnovsky states that the core of this problem is to be found in the distinction between the conceptual, that which is meticulously ordered by an all-embracing concept, and the empirical, characterized by the lack of such comprehensiveness. The difficulty is that efforts to attain an overall coherence, to bring order to the disorderly, seem to end in an insoluble paradox. It is particularly difficult for architects to adopt the indifferent attitude so badly needed to arrive at an irregular form when they are used to creating forms using orders and concepts. After analysing this paradox in art and architecture, the essence of empirical form seems to me ultimately to stem from an individuality among the different elements. This individuality requires a sea change in the process of designing. The architectural form needs to be designed out of many small discrete entities. The diversity of all these entities can be found by designing in terms of perception: the entities have to be related to a perceptible level of usage instead of being subjected to the customary orders and conceptual abstractions. By constructing a design process in which the activities taking place are each ascribed their own appropriate architectural form based on the degree of perception and experience, a wide and deep-rooted variety of forms can be created that can ultimately be combined into a varied whole.
Out of all this came the design for a new spatial configuration for the Senate of the States General, afflicted as it is at present by a flawed and largely unsustainable visitor infrastructure at the Binnenhof. Given the obscure structure of such a design process, the inherently totalitarian architect, myself in this case, has to lose full control over the result in order to achieve an empirical form.