Amsterdam West Museum for Contemporary Art

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This project was an attempt to investigate the art museum as an specific building type as well as the issues involved in the design of spaces for contemporary art. As every architectonic object, art museums are deeply connected with the functions they must fulfil and must act on the user as a stimulus which requires a behaviour response.*
According to Michel Foucault museums are sites that have the curious property of being in relation with all other sites, but in such a way as to suspend, neutralize, or invert the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror or reflect. The museum space is capable of juxtaposing in a single space several sites that are in themselves incompatible . Its space begins to function at full capacity when men arrive at a sort of absolute break with their traditional idea of time.
Designing a new museum requires a strong concept. An art museum should never be made as a neutral, weak thing. It should be made new and passionate. The museum space should create possibilities for the unpredictable. A space that is inspired, unconventional, unafraid of taking risks, humorous, provocative and spontaneous.
The new museum shouldn’t be there to train people how to answer but how to question. That what’s the new museum is for.

* Umberto Eco, taken from ’How an Exposition Exposes Itself’ quoted in Neil Leach, Rethinking Architecture, Routledge, London 1977, p.202.
Michel Foucault, Taken from ‘Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias’ quoted in Neil Leach, Rethinking Architecture, Routledge, London 1977, p.15.
Patrick Healy, Beauty And The Sublime, SUN Publishers, Amsterdam 2003

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Amsterdam West Museum for Contemporary Art

  1. 2. Context : Amsterdam West Amsterdam West is one of the largest examples of the strong tradition of design at the service of society realized in the Netherlands in the Twenty Century. This tradition favors interventions at large scale in order to deal with issues of housing and social planning. The concept of the modern open city of which Amsterdam West is an example can be characterized by ideas of easy infra-structural accessibility, good dwelling, well designed green areas and the absence of public cultural facilities. This area is also an example in which many post-war projects have changed under the influence of demographic developments. Amsterdam West is now an area with a large number of immigrants, and with an intense building activity near the West Ring and around the stations, introducing opposing economies in a relatively small area . Mohammed B
  2. 3. museum site Location: Sloterplas North Proposal : a program which reflects the need for cultural facilities in Amsterdam West. In Amsterdam West the lake is an area which is underused, and that was the first consideration of decisive importance for choosing the site.
  3. 4. Definition: According to Michel Foucault museums are sites that have the curious property of being in relation with all other sites, but in such a way as to suspend, neutralize, or invert the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror or reflect. For Foucault the museum represents the idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all the times, all the epochs , all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times, that is itself outside the time and its ravages, the project of organizing in this way a sort of perpetual and indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place, an heterotopia. Their role is to create a space that is other, another real space, a space of illusion that exposes every real space, a space as meticulous as well arranged as ours is messy, ill-constructed and jumble. study cases: boijmans museum (rotterdam)
  4. 5. Entrance Interior Typology As a public institution, the art museum is a product of the taxonomic Nineteen Century, a century obsessed with categories. It testimonies the belief in the power of reason and the capacity of men to perfect himself. The first spatial configurations of art museums can be described as followed: four walls, light from above, two doors, one for those who enter, the other for those who exit.
  5. 6. Interior Typology The White Cube The unadorned white box museum typology appeared in the 1950's born out of a Nineteenth Century scientific approach to cultural items, and out of Positivist thinking. Experienced as neutral in form and surpassing all ideologies, this typology was much more ideological in nature than any other form of museum design. The late modernist museum white box was a concept that, having becoming sacrosanct in Western Europe and the United States, denounced all other museum ideas as reactionary and anti-democratic.
  6. 7. Interior Typology The Black Box It was in 1977 when Roger’s and Piano’s project for the Pompidou Centre was executed that the white box mould was finally broken, losing the art museums their elite character to become a more popular and a commercial public space. The Pompidou in Paris was a conscious critique of the elitist model, a building as a political statement, and inspired to locate art for people within a an approachable framework.
  7. 8. The proliferation of museums in the 1980's and 1990's in the United States, Europe and Japan has produced a new type of architecture for art, the iconic landmark building. This new type of architecture has to be an amazing piece of surreal sculpture and something that appeals to a diverse audience, at once provocative and general and without the past justifications that religion and ideology once provided. There is nothing wrong with such sophisticated architectural enterprise except when an iconic building doesn’t need work of art inside, becoming the building enough in itself. Interior Typology Cafe
  8. 9. Interior Typology Lounge and Lecture Hall Looking at the museum architecture of the latter half of the twenty century, it is obvious that the requirement of creating space for exhibition was often treated as just a small fact next to the primary importance of architecture [1] . What is common to these architecture tours-de-force is that they compete with what they enclose, ironic since these architects learned from art of the minimal/conceptual era. [1] Brian O’Doherty, White Box, Black Cube, Space Architecture For Art. Circa , Dublin, 2005.
  9. 10. Interior Typology Office Another new typology for the contemporary art museum is the found space. That is the case of Tate Modern in London ( 2000, architects Herzog and de Meuron) and Palais de Tokyo in Paris ( 2002, architects Lacaton and Vassal). The found space provides an antidote to the over packing for all purpose made art buildings. What we see now is a peculiar treatment of space: architects adapting existing buildings have a template from which to operate, trying to recuperate the existent alienation through the construction of a place where identity might be reclaimed in the midst of art.
  10. 11. The garden is a rug onto which the whole world comes to enact its symbolic perfection, a kind of happy, universalizing heterotopia since the beginning of antiquity. It enters fully into function when men find themselves in a sort of total break of their traditional idea of time. Michel Foucault, Of Other Spaces . Landscape study cases: Schoonoord, Rotterdam Museum Park, Rotterdam Kew Gardens, London
  11. 12. Project Site . 1.The angled planes of water for the swamp garden works as a reflective surface alongside the building. 2.The parking is located next to the building, surrounded by green area and can be used as open cinema in the summer. 3.The sculpture garden is located next to the parking area 4.The backside garden was expressly designed for relaxing and taking time off from all the activities happening inside the museum. The main idea for the landscape design of this building was to give emphasis to sensory perception, in order to capture the visitors attention from the moment space is discovered. Placed on an existing green area, each façade of the building has now an associate garden. (see 1,2, 3, 4) 1 2 3 4 Landscape
  12. 13. Ground Floor Architecture Wing A Wing B 1 2 3 4 5 5 5 5 Legend: 1.Kitchen 2. Cafe 3. Lecture Hall 4. Shop 5. White boxes and black cubes galleries for temporary shows and installations for permanent collection 6. Toilets 7. Archive 8. Storage 6 7 8 This project was an attempt to investigate the art museum as an specific building type as well as the issues involved in the design of spaces for contemporary art. As every architectonic object, art museums are deeply connected with the functions they must fulfil and must act on the user as a stimulus which requires a behaviour response. [2] Given that space is never empty space, but as Foucault observed, it is always saturated with qualities [3] , I want to argue that the crucial question facing the design of an art museum is that exhibition space should not be perceived as an abstract, neutral space, but as the space for lived experience, not remote from the mind, the body and its sensations. [4] [2] Umberto Eco, taken from ’How an Exposition Exposes Itself’ quoted in Neil Leach, Rethinking Architecture , Routledge, London 1977, p.202. [3] Michel Foucault, Taken from ‘Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias’ quoted in Neil Leach, Rethinking Architecture , Routledge, London 1977, p.15. [4] Patrick Healy, Beauty And The Sublime, SUN Publishers, Amsterdam 2003
  13. 14. Architecture First Floor Wing A Wing B 5 5 6 12 12 5 13 9 10 11 Legend: 5. White boxes and black cubes galleries for temporary shows and installations for permanent collection 6. Toilets 9. Main Hall 10. Library 11. Offices 12.Auditory and Projection Room 13.Entrance Imagined originally resembling a gun, the concept of the building was generated by the complexity of the brief which had to be realized within a single building. The very real pressure for this project was to develop in the building an idea of how best a museum can show its collection and how to keep people coming back to look at them.
  14. 15. Second Floor Wing A Wing B 15 5 5 14 Legend: 5. White boxes and black cubes galleries for temporary shows and installations for permanent collection 14. Offices 15. Computer room Architecture The proposal was presenting this museum more as a multidisciplinary art centre than just a museum, trying to coordinate in the spatial articulation of this building an architectonic feeling that there the visitors are going to experience art in an space that will challenge, stimulate and inspire. Designed with a split in two wings, this building has a double attitude: to the community and to what it contains. To the community the building represents a place for group interaction, a mall, an entertainment zone. To what it contains the building has to be able to create in the visitor the atmosphere for viewers deep in introspection to stand before works of art.
  15. 16. Architecture Roof Museums bound up in contemporary culture are conscious of the notion that their identities are tied to their buildings . Designing a new museum requires a strong concept. An art museum should never be made as a neutral, weak thing. It should be made new and passionate. The museum space should create possibilities for the unpredictable. Wing A Wing B
  16. 17. A space that is inspired, unconventional, unafraid of taking risks, humorous, provocative and spontaneous, and not that kind of dowdiness settings that make you think that people only see the pictures and not what is around them. The museum shouldn’t be there to train people how to answer but how to question. That what’s the museum is for. What we need is not simplicity or functionally, but an architecture that stimulates our senses, and also our reason [5] . [5] Arie Graafland, The Socius Oof Architecture, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam 2000 Perspective .
  17. 18. Vanessa Lamounier, TU Delft, Autumn, 2006 .  Perspective

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