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Ben Morgan Jones Amsterdam Cultural Centre

Index Brief 02 Amsterdam, The Netherlands 04 Analysis 06 Taste of Culture 08 Development of Brief 10 Chosen Site and Analysis 12 Development of Cultural Centre 14 Hadid, Manchester International Festival Pavilion 28 Concept and Idea 22 Generation of Stage Envelope 24 Plans, Elevations and Sections 26 Visuals 40 Tectonics 50 Conclusion 53

Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit. Jawaharlal Nehru 1

Brief This project is for the design of a Centre for Contemporary Culture in Amsterdam and it is therefore critical that you develop your own understanding and interpretation of the notion of culture in society. Your ideas will undoubtedly develop with your experience of visiting the city and you should share and discuss those experiences with others. You are to broaden your own perception of the subject and record what you observe with drawings, photographs, poetry or paint, whatever best conveys your opinion. Experiment. Discover something new to you, interpret it and the represent it. Clearly as architects we are often asked to undertake buildings for uses which are unfamiliar to us and are often given projects of which we know very little at inception. Our task then is to both establish and understand the requirements of the ‘brief’ as first given and most importantly develop the architectural possibilities deriving from that brief. How then does the architecture which is generated move beyond the ordinary requirements of program and location? You will be expected to develop your own intellectual and architectural brief for this project over and above this outline brief, and, of course, you must define what you want to achieve architecturally. You must remember that you should always know what your architecture ‘does’ and how it does it. Programmatically, you must research and investigate how your building will respond to both the urban context and the human condition, particularly in respect of the cultural issues that it might endeavour to recognise, address, engender or promote. You will choose your site from 4 locations within the city of Amsterdam. You must select a site that has the potential for you to develop your own architectural response consistent with your interpretation of this brief and especially one that historically, physically or metaphorically is linked to your understanding of the cultural condition. It is essential that your building ‘relates’ to your immediate and wider site, and does more than ‘fitting in’. It should endeavour to ‘reveal’ or complete a piece in the urban jigsaw. You must have an attitude for what your building is ‘about’. Your architecture should form a ‘story’ that is in part to do with how it fits in to the wider and immediate physical context, but also to do with what you want to say or communicate about the nature of its cultural or social influence. We expect to see a well developed materiality in this project, with an inventive and interesting use of materials. You must research and experiment with these materials, and show evidence of this in your final proposals. It is important in this project that you learn to look beyond the visible into the unseen qualities of things. In this way a place can be seen as something with its own identity which each student can personally interpret. The importance of character and personality will be emphasized throughout the design process, whether it concerns analysis, site interpretation or architectural vision. It is intended that each student learns to express and then develop critically and appropriately, through their own intuition and rationale, an idea for an architectural proposition. Creativity is the act of recognising conflict, intensifying that conflict and resolving it efficiently with the available resource. Implicit in the resolution of a problem is a sense of the solution. In this sense you will need to hold the uncertainty of not knowing. It is important that imagination and inventiveness is cultivated, and that your project is represented through models and drawings that tackle a range of scales and experiences. Go beyond what is immediately apparent. Trust your imagination and curiosity. The process work should be a journey of investigation. Models and drawings can be ‘sacrificial’ in that the time investment within them is often expedient and thereby you are able to treat them as prototypes and investigative tools rather than final products. The intention of this project is that your architectural proposition relates to the city (on a micro and macro scale), expresses your understanding of the political, social and cultural condition and is presented in an envelope that has a high degree of resolution tectonically. “ . . . . delight the senses, inspire the masses and serve the soul” Sam Mockbee 2



Amsterdam, The Netherlands Amsterdam (population 1.36 million) is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. Its name is derived from Amstellerdam indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading centre for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were formed. The city is now the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually. The city fans out south from the Amsterdam Centraal railway station. The Damrak is the main street and leads into the street Rokin. The oldest area of the town is known as de Wallen. It lies to the east of Damrak and contains the city’s famous red light district. To the south of de Wallen is the old Jewish quarter of Waterlooplein. The 17th century girdle of concentric canals, known as the Grachtengordel, embraces the heart of the city where homes have interesting gables. Beyond the Grachtengordel are the former working class areas of Jordaan and de Pijp. The Museumplein with the city’s major museums, the Vondelpark, a 19th century park named after the Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel, and the Plantage neighbourhood, with the zoo, are also located outside the Grachtengordel. Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious city planning. In the early 17th century, when immigration was at a peak, a comprehensive plan was developed that was based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging at the IJ bay. Known as the Grachtengordel, three of the canals were mostly for residential development: the Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht. The fourth and outermost canal, the Singelgracht, served the purposes of defense and water management. In the 16th and 17th century non-Dutch immigrants to Amsterdam were mostly Huguenots, Flemings, Sephardi Jews and Westphalians. Huguenots came after the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685, while the Flemish Protestants came during the Eighty Years’ War. The Westphalians came to Amsterdam mostly for economic reasons – their influx continued through the 18th and 19th centuries. Before the Second World War, 10% of the city population was Jewish. The first mass immigration in the 20th century were by people from Indonesia, who came to Amsterdam after the independence of the Dutch East Indies in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1960s guest workers from Turkey, Morocco, Italy and Spain emigrated to Amsterdam. After the independence of Suriname in 1975, a large wave of Surinamese settled in Amsterdam, mostly in the Bijlmer area. Other immigrants, including asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, came from Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. In the seventies and eighties, many ‘old’ Amsterdammers moved to ‘new’ cities like Almere and Purmerend, prompted by the third planological bill of the Dutch government. This bill promoted suburbanization and arranged for new developments in so called “groeikernen”, literally “cores of growth”. Young professionals and artists moved into neighbourhoods de Pijp and the Jordaan abandoned by these Amsterdammers. The non-Western immigrants settled mostly in the social housing projects in Amsterdam-West and the Bijlmer. Today, people of non-Western origin make up approximately one-third of the population of Amsterdam, and more than 50% of children. 5

Amsterdam and the Netherlands has a great sense of national pride. With bank holidays such as Koninginnedag and Bevrijdingsdag, the population openly and extensively express how proud they are to be called Dutch and Amsterdammers.

The scenery of Amsterdam is very unmistakable. With many tree lined canals the city is splendidly picturesque. The canals have defined the city and influenced the architecture whilst providing character. To ignore this would be to ignore Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world and is a centre of bicycle culture. Used by all socioeconomic groups because of their convenience, bicycles are able to break down all social boundaries between the people of the city.

Amsterdam appears to freely embrace architecture extremely well, with projects such as the ijburg development and buildings such as the Nemo and ARCAM. Amsterdam is developing a wonderful collection of successful modern architecture.

Amsterdam is already a very cultured city with a vast array of theatres, galleries and concert halls. Of which notable venues include the Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw aan‘t IJ, Melkweg, Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam, Westerpark.

Amsterdam is lucky enough to be extremely rich in cultural history and has many world famous museums such as Rijksmuseum, Jewish Historical Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Multatuli Museum, Film Museum and The Anne Frank House.

Amsterdam has a rich street art scene, where graffiti plays an important role of expression. The city has attempted to decriminalize the whole activity by creating legal opportunities and places to paint, promoting its status to that of artist

With 3.66 million international visitors annually. Amsterdam is a main tourist destination attracting many stag and lad weekends. The centre of the city is thus steadily giving way to the holiday culture, and is losing its true Amsterdam identity.

The “coffeeshop� is a unique Dutch institution that has been operating for over 20 years with a quasi-legal status. Tolerant of the presence of coffeeshops, the Dutch believe it separates the soft drug users from the hard drug dealers.

De Wallen is a designated area for legalized prostitution and is Amsterdam’s largest and most well known red-light district. A major tourist destination, it is now being cleaned up in an attempted to remove organized crime and improve the standing of the area.


Taste of Culture The 17th century is considered Amsterdam’s Golden Age, during which it became the wealthiest city in the world. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea, North America, and Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam’s merchants had the largest share in both the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company. These companies acquired overseas possessions that later became Dutch colonies. The Dutch East India Company was the first multinational corporation in the world and the first company to issue stock. It was also arguably the world’s first mega corporation, possessing quasi-governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, negotiate treaties, coin money, and establish colonies. Amsterdam was Europe’s most important point for the shipment of goods and was the leading Financial Centre of the world. And in 1602, the Amsterdam office of the Dutch East India Company became the world’s first stock exchange by trading in its own shares. The trade and immigration that was brought to Amsterdam not only shaped the physical city but also the culture. For the city to survive it had to develop a tolerance, thus generating Amsterdam’s free and liberal atmosphere. The Golden Age defined the city, but now that the physical trade has given away to electronic, and immigration has been steadily decreasing, is there a risk that the Amsterdam culture will become stagnant. This liberal free attitude created through tolerance would diminish, which in turn prevents the further free development of the “Amsterdam” culture, reverting to the development of pocket cultures, independent and intolerant of each other. Trade of the VOC


Culture of Amsterdam and Aim of the Cultural Centre Is there a risk that the Amsterdam society will become stagnant? Amsterdam already caters extensively for its wide array of traditional and contemporary cultures but without the absorption of new world traditions previously brought to Amsterdam by immigration and trade, is the existing free and liberal development of Amsterdam going to cease to exist. Thus for the continuation of the development of a Contemporary Amsterdam Culture I believe there has to be an injection of alternative world cultures to inspire and evolve. These cultures need to be witnessed, absorbed and reinterpreted within the culture of Amsterdam. But if the Cultural Centre is providing this injection, I do not think there is a need to mollycoddle the public, holding their hand to teach them each step or verse in a workshop or classroom. I believe that all the cultural centre needs to do, is provide an adequate platform on which to perform, the people of Amsterdam will then instinctively do the rest. Delicate in its actions the cultural centre must distinguish itself from the city, creating a pocket of isolation containing cultures in their perfect purified form. If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place. Margaret Mead 10

The Developed Brief To provide simply a platform on which to present world and alternative cultures to those people of Amsterdam who seek to develop their own through experiencing, absorbing and hopefully reinterpretation. The scheme is to include, Auditorium and Supporting Spaces A venue in which to conduct various performances to a small target audience, it is required to provide an intimate atmosphere that will seek to enhance the experience and is to include all the necessary facilities needed to run a fully functioning Auditorium. Restaurant A location to serve world culinary dishes in an atmosphere adequate to absorb the tastes of cultures. Accommodation Residential Accommodation to house the performers of the cultural centre for their duration of their stay with the supporting facilities to cater for their needs. 11


Chosen Site and Analysis


The aim of the Cultural Centre is to introduce the people of Amsterdam to world cultures in a bid to influence and inspire them, thus hopefully stimulating further free development of their own culture.

Initially reducing the brief to a simple stage on which to perform. The key and the starting point of the design is the auditorium. In essence this space is too contain culture in its purified and idealistic form.

How can a container relate a city if its contents is not of the city? The double skin provides a neutral zone in which to perform, whilst providing a free facade that is allowed to relate to the exterior surroundings.

Developed into blocks, the external skin is now defined as clouds. They possess an unfocussed, dreamy quality to offset against the focussed and directed space of the theatre performance.

These clouds were then defined and filled independent of each other. One is consider as the performer (green room, changing rooms, practice rooms) and the other, Spectator (foyer, bar and restaurant).

The Machine as a performance area is then stripped back. Considered to impersonal and unfocussed it is reduced to merely a stage and seating area. Here is the desire to remove all except the performance.


Why should an object that has no direct cultural relationship have a physical connection? The container is thus now elevated above the ground on which it sits, further detaching it from the city.

If the container has now removed its physical presence, then there is no need to contain the horizontal plane. Thus the skirt of the outer skin is also lifted up. Creating an impromptu space beneath the Cultural Centre.

Development of the performance area into a working machine, one that would serve the needs of those who use it to perform and those who use it to observe. Providing a source of escapism and isolation.

To further personalize and focus the experience, the seating was leveled and the size of the audience was reduced. The stage orientation was then flipped thus entwining the performer into the spectator domain.

The stage is then wrapped in a c, allowing sound, light and dark created to leak into the void, filling it with echoes and moving shadows. Whilst focusing attention on the performance.

The translucent skin of the roof is removed, opening the void to the sky. This void between the clouds aims to stay challengingly void, as a frame to the stage, performance and envelope

Development of Cultural Centre 15

To enable access to the stage and seating, walkways are introduced through the void. They penetrate the skin of the cloud spaces, providing a ceremonial entrance for both the spectator and performer.

The rigidity of the stage, seating and walkways is then removed to create a much more free flowing scheme, one that naturally entwines both the performers and spectators, creating a fluid relationship.

To ensure the Cultural Centre maintains a sense of purity an additional servicing ancillary block is provided. This building posses an independent architectural language to disconnect itself from the main building.

For the Nieuwendijk Street frontage, the facade and entrance is developed with the appearance of a sanctuary/stronghold, it acts as a threshold, defining the city from the residential/ancillary areas.

The vertical circulation in the spectators cloud is refined to prevent interference. Circulation to the pre-performance area is separated from that to the restaurant ensuring an essential pure unfocused zone.

A central core is defined within the ancillary block to provide vertical circulation for the performers cloud and surrounding services, thus allowing easy flow between backstage areas and a detachment from public space.


The main entrance, vertical circulation and services are then located in the ancillary block, purifying the space within the clouds and void. Resulting in a total detachment of the clouds from the horizontal plane

The Ancillary block is thus divided up into there sections, vertical circulation for the spectators cloud (C), residential block for the performers (R), and ancillary services and circulation for the performers cloud (A).

A book store is then introduced to the Demark street frontage of the ancillary block in an attempt to further detach the visual relationship. Thus enhancing the appearance of the floating clouds.

The block is then split into two sections with the aim to bring light into the scheme, a large courtyard is thus introduced further dividing the residential and performance domains, creating independent entities.

The residential courtyard is then raised above the level of the street. In an attempt to detach it from the busy flow of the commercial Nieuwendijk Street. Thus providing an isolated pocket of space.

Green external spaces are then introduced to the residential (residential courtyard) and backstage block (rooftop performance area) to provide external sheltered green spaces, so rarely found in Amsterdam.

Development of Cultural Centre 17


Zaha Hadid - Manchester International Festival Pavilion Architect Zaha Hadid was invited to design a space ­specifically for the ­performance of solo Bach, a 21st-century version of the kind of salon where the great ­patrons of the 18th century might have listened to music they had commissioned. Her brief, from the director of the Manchester international festival, Alex Poots, was that the space should come close to creating the perfect ­conditions for the music to be heard; after all, Bach’s exquisite, complex solo partitas and sonatas were originally written for small audiences, to be p­ erformed in intimate environments, not giant concert halls. Characteristically dismissive of this brief, and any connection the ­resulting structure might bear to the music it was designed for (even if an early sketch featured elements reminiscent of a musical stave). “Obviously for some p­ eople there is a big connection between ­music and the way you can create a space,” she says. “But we didn’t really do that – we didn’t do ­anything like ­literally translate a score into a design.” For an architect who is a household name in Britain, this temporary ­structure in Manchester represented a relatively rare opportunity to see her work. On the top floor of the grand, neoclassical Manchester Art Gallery, in a cavernous room usually ­reserved for temporary exhibitions, Hadid’s team had built a tiny concert hall – a space within a space. Seating just 192 lucky people, for nine evening concerts by pianist Piotr ­Anderszewski, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and violinist Alina Ibragimova. “It is almost like being in a ­cocoon,” Hadid says of the curving, ­enveloping forms that now wind through the gallery. “If you are in a fluid space, the impact created is very different. The impression is more c­ omplex. You are perhaps more enclosed [than in a standard, rectangular concert hall], but in a soft way.” The structure is alluringly simple – a performance space demarcated and enclosed by a single, deep ribbon of fabric, attached to a steel frame. This floats out of a back corner of the ­gallery and snakes around until it ­finally curls to the floor; along the way, it quietly performs a number of acoustic functions, creating surfaces above and behind the stage for the sound to bounce off. The fabric is an extremely stretchy white Lycra, the kind of thing cyclists wear, chopped into large ­panels by a skilful pattern-cutter based in Bristol. The overall effect is like sails swollen by a high wind, or a gymnast’s ribbon frozen into an elegantly arcing spiral. There is an impression of great lightness. “It’s never a ­linear inspiration process for Zaha, but the ribbon is an architectural motif that’s very flexible. It creates a space, it performs, if you like.” It has often been argued that classical music ­cannot easily be taken out of the ­concert hall, because of its rigorous acoustic requirements – a shame, given that some of the most memorable drama and visual art of recent years has been site-specific, created outside traditional galleries or theatres. If ­Hadid’s installation works, it could point the way forward to more imaginative ways of experiencing classical music. On the 17th of July 2009, I was personally lucky enough to go and experience this pavilion and the classical talent of Alina Ibragimova. The atmosphere within the pavilion was one of pure focus. The structure did not compete for attention with the violinist, but emphasized her presence. It provided an intimate atmosphere, to which when I discovered that it seated 192 I was shocked, for the audience feels no more than 50. The ribbon was able to draw your focus solely onto her. As if she was playing for the envelope, as if it was judgement day and the audience were the jury and the deep ribbon was the judge, she was performing for her life. For me this was an incredible experience, this sole focus where everything else was forgotten, was a very individual experience of which I can honestly say was a first in my life, the effect of this pavilion was truly something very special and extremely unique. 19

“A Golden Ribbon Between the Clouds”


Concept Detachment of an individual from the city,leading to the immersion within a performance. Idea To create a proposal removed from Amsterdam, that produces spaces of an unfocused dreamy quality to offset against a focussed and directed space of a stage and seating area, which is wrapped by a sculptural envelope designed to enhance the experience of the performance.



The Ribbon Inspired by the work of Zaha Hadid, this ribbon attempts to develop upon what was achieved with the Manchester International Pavilion. Using the experience generated from this form, this sculptured envelope aims to enhance the performance. Initially developed in plan, elevation and narrative, the form was then eventually conceived using Rhino 3D since physical modeling seemed unfeasible to mold such a fluid shape.


Generation of stage envelope

The Performers Gateway The ribbon curls over the walkway to provide a fitting gateway for the performer to pass under, defining their departure from the cloud space, whilst suggestively leading them to the stage. The Envelope Skirt To create an entrance to the stage area the ribbon subtly and delicately lifts up its skirt, to provide a fluid flow into the space.

The Stage Wrapping Wrapping around the st a secure clean backdr the acoustic demands parameters established

Structural Support She The outermost part of t two pieces that gracefu only concealing the se hide the structural supp

tage the ribbon provides rop, whilst also fulfilling (developed around the d by MIF Pavilion).

The Stretch Leading the spectators to the seating area, the stretch is a long section of the ribbon that gently builds up from the cloud space to gradually focus the public.

The Basket A section of ribbon plummets below the stage area to aesthetically develop the form from below, creating this object that appears to be isolated from the laws of physics.

eath the ribbon is one of only ully touch the wall, not eating area, they also ports of the platform.

The Squeeze A tight fit between the ribbon creates a contrasting experience, enhancing the spectators forthcoming perception of the enclosed seating and stage area.

The Lift To define an entrance for the public, a complex entwinement of crossing parts of the ribbon lift up to form a gateway. Thus contrasting to the pure entrance of the performer.





Ground Floor Plan The Internal Street and Void Open to the public the internal street is an impromptu space, one of passing through, drifting, meeting people and busking. An auditoria in its own right, here the public can witness the pre performance foreplay taking place within the cloud spaces. Cast shadows flicker across the translucent skin, as the performers prepare and the public mingle. When the performance is underway sound, light and dark leak into the void, filling it with echoes and moving shadows, projected onto the cloud spaces. A taster of culture presented to the public below. Entrance Referred to as the door into Narnia, the entrance is an extremely discreet, almost a hidden portal. The only indications to where this portal leads are a golden seam down the centre of the door leaf and the initials of the Cultural Centre embossed on the floor plate. The Book Store Located with a street frontage it aims to enhance the illusion that the ancillary building is independent of the Cultural Centre. A triple height skylight space, the bookstore stocks cultural literature from around the world and has the impression of an Aladdin’s cave of treasure and knowledge. 29

Ground Floor Plan

First Floor Plan Changing Rooms Orientated to enable the best and most efficient creation of silhouettes to be portrayed onto the canvas of the cloud spaces of the internal void. They can accommodate up to twelve performers, with two single changing rooms and two communal (accommodating five personal each). Foyer This is the first impression of the internal qualities of the cloud spaces that the public will receive. Thus it is to be lightly furnished with a scattering of plain white chairs and tables. Here the public can inquire and purchase tickets for forthcoming events and store coats prior to the performance. The space acts as a gateway to the pre performance area and the restaurant, allowing staff to monitor and control the flow of people. Twin Bedrooms These bedroom are in effect dormitories, intended for the use of the performers, they provide comforting and safe accommodation detached from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, a sanctuary in the city. Orientation is dictated by the desire of natural lighting, the internal courtyard wall is thus perforated with glass bricks to allow light to scatter into the internal spaces. 31

Second Floor Plan Stage and Seating Seating a small audience of just 76, this stage and seating area creates a focus personal atmosphere, through the use of envelope and layout. The stage is raised a mere 300mm off the ground, to provide ease of view with a personal intimate connection. The porous envelope is made of perforated metal, with the desire to embody a sense trade and global cultural wealth through the material choice. Like Zaha Hadid’s Manchester International Pavilion, the desire of this “Ribbon” is to create a focused uninterrupted ­cocoon. To enhance the spectators experience of the performance and the culture. Pre-Performance Area A clean and crisp room, there are only two items which interrupt the unfocused purity of this space. The initial is the bar, a clean lined white top surface, it provides for the pre show refreshment needs of the spectators. The second interruption is the walkway, piercing through the cloud facade, the walkway comes in line and terminates with the bar. A conscious step up of 250mm is present to board the walkway, enhancing the initial act of departure from the unfocussed cloud space to the focused reality of the seating area of the performance. A physical step to prepare an individual. 33

Third Floor Plan Pre-Performance Practice Area (Music) One of three practice zones within the Cultural Centre, this area provides a light dream like quality in which to practice. It offers an escape from the focus of reality to practice in a detached “non existent� space. The movement of music is often neglected due to the over powering acoustic qualities, thus like the stories below, this space provides a silhouette spectacle on the exterior walls of the clouds, and the visual act of music will be able to be seen without the acoustic sense. Restaurant (level 1) Entrance to the restaurant, the bar, waiting lounge, kitchen and toilets are all situated on a separate level to the main dining space, as a result of purification. The bar and waiting area act as the initial introduction to the restaurant, prior to the main act of the dining space. The kitchen has been arranged so to cast light, heat and energetic movements onto the translucent skin of the cloud, thus portraying the culinary art into the void. Main Bedrooms More generous than the twin dormitories and including an en-suite, these bedrooms possess the same light qualities as the rest of the residential block. But benefit from seclusion of being on the top floor. 35


Fourth Floor Plan Restaurant (level 2) Considered to have the potential to be called the cloud nine of dining, the top floor dining space of the restaurant offers a pure blank white canvas of light as the background setting to a dining experience. Serving world cuisine, the restaurant is intended to provide a taster of alternative world cultural foods. In a bid to expand the culinary knowledge and tastes of the people of Amsterdam. The restaurant would have a close relationship to the stage, thus the menu at the time should relate to the culture of the performance. Pre-Performance Practice Space (Dance) With similar internal qualities to that of the restaurant, the pre-performance practice space serves the practice needs of any dancer. Similar to the Pre-Performance Practice Space (Music) below. It has a dreamy white detached quality to provide the ability to easily loose oneself in dance. External Practice Space Offering a sheltered external retreat, this external public space allows the outdoor escape of performers whilst maintaining some concealment. A chance to escape and practice outdoors in the fresh air without the visual impact of the city and the disconcertedness of being watched whilst practicing. 37


Top: East Elevation (Damrak Street), Bottom: West Elevation (Nieuwendijk Street)

Top: Section B:B, Bottom: Section A:A. 39


External visual of Damrak Street facade

External visual of Nieuwendijk Street facade 41


Visual of public entrance to the Cultural Centre

Visual of cloud space, pre-performance practice room (dance) 43


Sketch of stage


Visual of stage envelope



Visual of entrance to internal residential courtyard

Visual of internal living space 49

For my tectonics I aimed to achieve an understanding of what was least know to me about my scheme, the quality of light present within the cloud spaces. During the design process I extensively researched translucent curtain walling systems such as ETFE and Okulux. But my general opionion of them was that the end product was lacking an essence of materiality. The products felt too enginnered and clean cut for the cultural centre proposal. Thus through the Tectonic project I sought to find an alternative. Shigeru Ban’s Naked house uses a composite facade to achieve a translucent effect similar to that desired of my cloud spaces. Seemingly suitable at first glance one discovers on further investigation that there are several issues with this system that would prove inadequate for my scheme. These inadequacies include the amount of light transmittance, the sound reflectiveness and proportional scale of parts. But in essence the system is ideal. Thus my tectonics project subsequently turned into an experimental process to achieve the perfect cloud facade through the development of Shigeru Ban’s original system. Initially experimenting on a small scale, the final act was to construct a 1:1 prototype to monitor the quality of light to further understand the spatial qualities of my proposed cloud spaces. 50

Tectonic Investigation

1:10 Wall Section (Plan View)

1:10 Wall Section showing Acoustic Previsions

Polyethylene Foam Insulating Panels Nylon Skin

Nylon Skin Bubble Wrap

Glazed Skin

Polyethylene Foam Insulating Panels Glazed Skin

Resin Floor Finish Glazed Panel

Bubble Wrap Velcro

Acoustic Seal

Secondary Support Structure


Timber Frame

Internal Nylon Skin White nylon fabric is attached to a timber frame via Velcro fixings (Velcro has to be used to ensure a taught surface) thus allowing the material to be removed to be cleaned. Bubble Wrap Insulation Used for its insulation Properties. Larger surface area of bubbles result in an increase in light transmittance as well as improved thermal capabilities.

750mm Deep Parallam Beam

Polyethylene Foam Insulation A great thermal and sound insulator it is commonly used as roof insulation and packaging. With a density of 30Kg/m3 its translucent qualities allow for the diffusion of light, creating a cloudy dream like quality. Prepared with a flame retardant and heat sealed in between transparent polyethylene sheeting. Investigations showed that a single sheet is the most ideal for the desired transmittance but this comes at a cost of reductions to its thermal properties.

Exterior Glazed Skin An exterior transparent (to improve overall light transmittance) glazed skin has been introduced instead of the original GRP of the naked house, this has been to improve the acoustic performance of the internal cloud spaces to meet the rigors of a city location. It was also an aesthetic decision to create a smooth external finish. The Glazing is hung from a secondary structure that also provides support to the Polyethylene foam insulation.

Opposite Page (left to right): various observations of lights through the final prototype, external lighting appearance, the prototype, small scale experimenting 51

Conclusion On reflection, this project has been a difficult development of ideas. It was initially extremely difficult for the architectural proposal to let go of the ‘concept’ when it had became something in its own right. At that point the development related to the architectural proposal, its inherent possibilities, its integrity, its own ability to smuggle or transcend. For a long duration I was teetering at that point of switch over from concept to architecture. But as a result of that leap I am very pleased with the final proposal and the narrative that the building generates. The scheme should not be seen as a sculptural entity but as an experience. An experience that is intended to influence, inspire and develop the culture of Amsterdam. One that isolates and disconnects an individual from the city in a unfocused cloud prior to immersing them in a ribbon focused on a performance of culture. The Tectonic Investigation was a real joy to undertake, it allowed me to experiment and realise a small aspect of my building, resulting in the achievement of actually portraying the quality of light. For me this has been a very big development, stepping well out of my comfort zones into uncertain conditions of form, experiences and conditions, of which I am very glad I have undertaken.

When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it. Yo-Yo Ma 53


Amsterdam Cultural Centre  

3rd Year Portfolio

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