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light, air and space at the Sloterplas

new pavilion for the Van Eesteren Museum

The new pavilion for the Van Eesteren Museum is situated on a triangular plot on the north bank of the Sloterplas. On this particular site, architect and urban planner Cornelis Van Eesteren himself envisioned a small building, which he included in his urban plan. In the last 50 years the plot was covered with hawthorn bushes and its possibilities remained almost unnoticed.

The northern bank still breathes the grandeur of the heroic period in which the Sloterplas was constructed. Located at the western edge of the promenade, the building site forms a pivot point between the vast eastern side of the north bank and the smaller scale of the western side with the marina and recent developments.

location: Sloterplas, Amsterdam West
design: 2012-2016
realisation: 2017
structural engineer: h4d
advisor - technical installations: Adviesbureau van der Weele
contractor: KBK Volendam
photography: Luuk Kramer
Van Eesteren Old Location
Van Eesteren New Location
Van Eesteren Implanting

situation plan

Over time the geometric, pure architectural and monumental layout of the north bank has transformed into a lush green park with high trees and a surprisingly natural character. The design of the new building is therefore tailored to a park landscape rather than the urban composition we see on historic photographs.

Van Eesteren Sverre Fehn Brussel

Sverre Fehn, Norwegian Pavilion World Exhibition, Brussels, 1958, Wood construction

Van Eesteren Sverre Fehn Venice

Sverre Fehn, Scandinavian Pavilion Venice Biennale, 1962, Concrete construction

Van Eesteren Construction

photo: march 2017, Annick Marquer

The Scandinavian architecture of the 1950s and 1960s reconciles modernism with a genuine love for nature provinding valuable references for a sustainable architecture of our time.

The materials, shapes and colours chosen for the pavilion match the natural character of the place. The formal language, however, is indebted to the modernism of the time when Sloterplas arose. With a deliberately chosen combination of modern simplicity, clear lines, lots of light, bright, graphic colours and natural materials, the design refers to Scandinavian pavilions and houses from the 1950s and 1960s. This architecture fits both the original design and ideas of Van Eesteren and the present time.

Van Eesteren Plan

floorplan and section

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The pavilion one month before the opening, before the playground equipment and objects belonging to the planned outdoor exhibition were installed.

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Atmosphere, acoustics and spatiality are defined by wood as the most important material, as well as daylight. The outdoor walls are as transparent as possible. The closed parts are executed in dark stained or painted wood. The lower part is covered with wide planks with a fairly heavy profile. In the area above we have used more narrow planks and added decorative letters.

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With our design we tried to take the cultural objectives of the Van Eesteren Museum into account while dealing with the (very) limited budget and the desired sober appearance. All visible parts of the building have a clear practical function. Purely aesthetic elements are omitted. The structural design is legible and logical. The detailing, with its oversized window frames, protects the used timber, helps to keep the glass clean and reinforces the transparent impression of the building.

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The free-standing building equally relates to the small scale harbour area to the west and to the monumental lanes to the east.

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Van Esteren Interior Cross 2
Van Esteren Interior Wood
Van Esteren Interior Wood 2
Van Esteren Interior

images from the building site; the characteristic timber structure will be left untreated and uncovered even after completion and furnishing

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