AMSTERDAM (NL) - Just to the east of Amsterdam's Central Station is a major new cultural hub that already boasts a striking concert hall (Muziekgebouw) and public library. September 2008 saw the opening of the newly completed Conservatorium. Designed by Frits van Dongen of de Architecten Cie., it caters to all forms of music.
The vertically disposed programme comprises five auditoriums for different kinds of musical performance, classrooms, a canteen-cum-foyer, study rooms, a library, a lecture theatre and offices. De Cie. based their design on the Japanese Engawa model in which corridors are arranged around the perimeter and the functional spaces form the core of the building. The resulting corridor system acts as a buffer against outside noise with obvious benefits for the all-important acoustics. Thanks to the large areas of glazing, both the corridors and the functional spaces (including two of the auditoriums) enjoy direct daylight.
The ground-floor foyer, which unfolds around the building, is designed to be transparent. Apart from the huge windows, the most striking feature is the cladding: long slats of solid red oak line both the inner walls and the ceiling of the foyer. The slats, which are completely demountable, were first roughened and then oiled. The wood on the outside of the building was lacquered on all four sides in order to achieve the same colour effect. The continuation of the slats outside in the form of an awning generates a pattern of parallel lines that enhances the spatial inside-outside effect – a subtle entrance for an acoustic monolith. (Hannah Schubert)