Amare – a stacked world full of culture

Amare was built under a Design Build & Maintain contract. This means that the Cadanz consortium, led by Boele & Van Eesteren and Visser & Smit Bouw, is not only responsible for the design and realization of the cultural building, but also for the maintenance of the building for the first twenty years. NOAHH worked as chief architect for this consortium, in collaboration with Jo Coenen Architects & Urbanists and NL Architects.

The current design for Amare follows an earlier design by Neutelings Riedijk Architecten. At the time, this project was still called Spuiforum and was designed in the traditional way: the architect was selected via a design competition, then the design was elaborated in consultation with the client and users, and then builders were involved. When the ambitious design by Neutelings Riedijk Architecten became much more expensive than originally budgeted, the municipality of The Hague pulled the plug. Subsequently, the project was put on the market again with a DBM contract. The idea was that the municipality would no longer run any risk.

With the current price tag of the building, more than 220 million euros, you can wonder whether the design by Neutelings Riedijk Architecten would not have cost about the same in the economic cycle. But hey, that’s speculation.

However, you can read from Amare that the DBM contract form does have some drawbacks. The program of requirements has remained the same from the Spuiforum to Amare. But architecture is of course much more than that. And that is reflected, for example, in the way the building faces the street. To keep costs down, the building has been made as compact as possible. You hardly notice this in the halls and the foyers around it. But especially in the plinth and the way you enter the building and then go up in the building. The building could have used more generosity there.

The DBM contract also originally no longer included a dialogue with the users. This may not be a problem with a simpler building, but with a complex building such as Amare it is different. Under pressure from the users, the Municipality of The Hague therefore set up a round of dialogue late in the process, when construction had already started. At that time, a large number of parts in the design were adjusted and improved. But at that time, a lot was already fixed in the design. An earlier round of dialogue would probably have been more effective.

Finally the materialization. Where the foyers and halls are of a really high standard, you can still see in parts that the building has become simpler than hoped in advance. This starts with the not too elegantly detailed concrete branch structure in the facade. It is then noticeable upon entering that the gold cladding of the concert hall has not been continued all around. Why not? Deeper in the building you will come across aluminum plates on the floor in all kinds of places. To prevent sound transmission between rooms, the building is actually constructed as five separate buildings. Those dilations have to be finished, of course, but couldn’t that have been tighter? Another example is the floor in the concert hall, which was conceived by the users as a movable floor that could be either flat or inclined, but because of the way this was described in the schedule of requirements, in the eyes of the builders a hall that starts flat and then also rises.

Leave a Comment