In 2019, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra moved into a former arts and crafts school for girls on Gabriël Metsustraat in Amsterdam, fulfilling their 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 renovation project lay largely in reconciling various spatial needs, very high acoustic and technical requirements, and the wishes of both the municipal conservation department and the surrounding residents. This project was a community effort in other ways, too. Although the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra made a significant financial investment at the start of the project, the remaining finance was raised during the design process, thanks to the many generous RCO patrons.
The careful restoration of key historical elements such as the façade, dormer windows and the staircase with its green glazed wall tiles, brings the essence of Berlage’s original design back to life. The design of the extension harmonises with the existing building, and as such, 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. A glazed passageway connects the new building with the monument, like a blank space between past and present.
Team V created an ensemble hall within the old school, by joining together four previous classrooms, demolishing the walls between the classrooms and part of the first floor. This soundproof music room is designed as a box-in-a-box, providing a vibration-free performance space with double walls, floors, doors, and windows. The acoustics can be adapted with electrically rotatable wall panels – a flat, perforated, sound-absorbent surface on one side, with a convex diffusely reflective surface on the other, each with their own acoustic effect. This makes the room suitable for playing various instruments and arrangements, including rehearsals with sections of the orchestra and small chamber music performances.
House for music
The new building contains ten soundproof practice studios allowing members of the orchestra to rehearse outside the Concertgebouw, both individually and in groups. Sliding wall panels in oak veneer allow musicians to alter the acoustics as desired. Considerable technology was integrated in and around the studios to meet various specific needs. For example, a group of wind instrument players need ample ventilation. These requirements form an integral aspect of the design solution. Air outlets from the rehearsal spaces are assimilated into the rooftop garden. Instead of a rooftop full of ventilation pipes, office employees and surrounding residents enjoy a pleasant view of a green roof.