RCO House

Gabriël Metsustraat 16, Amsterdam, Nederland

In 2019, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra took over a former arts and crafts school for girls on Gabriël Metsustraat, thus fulfilling the long-held aspiration to have a home base for staff and musicians in which to work and rehearse. Built in 1908, the municipal monument designed by the architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage was not big enough to house the desired program. The complexity of this project lay largely in reconciling the spatial needs, the very high acoustic and technical requirements, and the wishes of both the municipal conservation department and the surrounding residents.

BALANCE – The careful restoration of historical elements, such as the front façade, the dormer windows, and the staircase with green glazed wall tiles, brings the essence of Berlage’s design to life again. The design of the extension harmonizes with the existing volume. Like the existing building, the new wing is finished in red brickwork with details in natural stone. The bricked-up window frames reflect the composition of the original façade. Like a blank space between past and present, a glazed volume connects the new building with the monument.

ENSEMBLE HALL – Within the envelope of the school, Team V created an ensemble hall by joining together four previous classrooms. This involved demolishing the walls between the classrooms and part of the first floor. The space is designed as a soundproof and vibration-free box-in-a-box, with double walls, floors, doors, and windows. The acoustics of the room can be adapted with electrically rotatable wall panels featuring a flat, perforated, sound-absorbent outer surface and a convex diffusely reflective inner surface. This makes the room suitable for various instruments and arrangements, including rehearsals with sections of the orchestra and small chamber music performances.

HOUSE FOR MUSIC – The RCO House meets an urgent need among young members of the orchestra to be able to rehearse outside of the concert building, both individually and in groups. The new volume contains ten soundproof practice studios. Sliding wall panels of oak veneer allow the musicians to alter the acoustics as desired. A great deal of technology needed to be integrated in and around the studios; a group of wind instrument players, for example, requires lots of ventilation. The technology forms an integral aspect of the architecture. Air outlets from the rehearsal spaces are assimilated into the rooftop garden. Office employees and surrounding residents therefore enjoy a pleasant view, not of installations but of a green roof.