A new home for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

18 January 2019

In a former monumental school in Amsterdam, Team V Architecture designed a new home for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. On January 19, the RCO House was officially opened by Mayor Femke Halsema. This event is fulfilling a long cherished dream: now, orchestra and staff are able to meet, work and practice on the Museumplein, within a stone’s throw of The Concertgebouw. The Amsterdamzaal provides a perfect space to receive audience for chamber music, introductions to concerts, auditions and educational activities.

To accommodate the extensive program of the Concertgebouw Orchestra the former ‘Art school for girls’ from 1908 by architect Berlage has been thoroughly renovated, restored and extended. The monumental building comprises various meeting rooms, offices and a music hall accommodating a hundred people. A new extension with sound proofed practice rooms, a foyer and a roof garden has been added to the back of the monument.

With the design, Team V sought to achieve a delicate balance between the existing monumental aesthetic and a new contemporary one, in keeping with the identity of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. A clear distinction has been made between the monument and the new building. Between these two buildings sits is a glass-roofed space, acting as a passage between past and present. This provides a special quality to the lobby on the ground floor, where the restored rear facade can be admired in its entirety.

Do Janne Vermeulen: “This tension between past and present is something the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra are dealing with every day. How do you appeal to a young audience with music from a long time ago? We tried to give shape to this leap in time in the architecture. The new building part at the back is very different, but in some ways also an echo of what Berlage has built, for example in the scale of the window frames and in the use of materials.”

The restoration was dedicated to preserving and restoring the original structure and the historical elements. Both front and rear facades and the characteristic dormers have been restored to the original design by Berlage. The few original details that were still intact were restored, including the clocks, the director’s room and the characteristic green glazed tiles in the central staircase.

Four large classrooms have been merged into one spacious music hall; the Amsterdamzaal. The acoustics of the hall can be adjusted by means of rotating acoustic wall panels. This makes the room suitable for various setups and instruments. The new building includes ten soundproof studios where orchestra members can rehearse alone or in small groups. Also here the acoustics can also be adjusted, using sliding wall panels made of oak veneer.

Do Janne Vermeulen: “The Concertgebouw Orchestra is a world-class orchestra. This is also reflected in their ambitions in the field of architecture, cultural history and of course the acoustics, which must be perfect in every respect. Therefore, the RCO House not only serves as a home for the orchestra, but above all as a home for their music.”

The Concertgebouw Orchestra made some movies during the construction of the RCO House. Watch them here: YouTube.

Fotografie: Jannes Linders / Renske Vrolijk

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