With Arcam René van Zuuk has demonstrated his talent for designing free standing, object-like buildings.
Arcam (Amsterdam Centre for Architecture) moved to its new quarters on the waterfront at Oosterdok in September 2003. The decision to move to new premises was prompted by the desire to give a forward-looking institute a more contemporary look and the growing need for a larger exhibition space. A small pavilion, designed by Renzo Piano, was partly demolished leaving the floors and columns to be integrated in the new design.
An important aspect of the architectural brief was that, despite its compact size, the new building had to be able to hold its own alongside the neighboring large structures and monumental facades on Prins Hendrikkade. Using the narrow, low-lying quay, as a departure-point for the shape of the new building, René van Zuuk added a third story and folded a skin of zinc-clad aluminium (Kalzip) over the entire building volume, giving each facade its own perspective.
The folded skin, used in combination with the sloping glass facade, generates a spectacular entrance at the Prins Hendrikkade and gives the building volume an extremely sober perspective at the east side. On the waterside of the building the different levels are visible through the glazed facade.
The facilities, such as stairways, lift and reception, are grouped together in a compact core, giving rise to open spaces around it for exhibitions, offices, conference rooms and an information point/study area. Because of the various levels being interconnected by means of voids, all of the spaces are perceptibly part of the larger whole.
Seventeen years after it was founded, ARCAM now plays an important part in Amsterdam’s cultural climate; a full-fledged architecture centre which organizes discussions and exhibitions, issues publications and a news bulletin, and which in recent years has added educational, digital and international projects to its activities.
Arcam’s new location overlooks the museum dock with its historic ships, the Netherlands Maritime Museum and the science centre NEMO designed by Renzo Piano.