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The University of Amsterdam is competing for the Golden A.A.P. 2015 with its building over the Nieuwe Achtergracht for the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The prize is awarded to the architect and the client. Tom Looman, project manager for Roeterseiland Campus, is honoured by the nomination. He explains why the building is special.

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 ‘By removing the lower floors of the building, we have retained the building’s 1970s ambience for the city, while upgrading it to meet today’s wishes and requirements. Today, it would be unthinkable to build over the water, but in the 1970s it wasn’t an issue. You don’t see it anywhere else in Amsterdam.’ 

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Design is an expression of the client’s wishes

The building’s design accords with the wishes of the client. The University of Amsterdam wanted to realise a more integrated design for the campus, and reconnect the campus and the city. In Tom Looman’s view, the ‘cut-out’ was a master stroke. ‘Thanks to this change, the campus can be seen from the city, and vice versa. From De Brug, a study, work and meeting area on the fourth floor, you have a magnificent view over the city. Soon, when the adjacent Faculty of Law building on Roetersstraat and the large entrance hall are completed as well, the campus will be a coherent whole and a beautiful area.’ View the photos of the new building.

Changes inside the building

‘The interior of the building has been altered too,’ explains Tom Looman. ‘This was a Chemistry department, with laboratories deep in the building. These have made way for teaching rooms and offices. The offices are smaller than the old laboratories, which means that there is now additional space in the central zone of the building for study, work and meeting areas, among other things.’

Accessible for all students at Roeterseiland Campus

Logistical considerations were important in deciding on the layout of the building. ‘The audience areas, such as auditoriums and teaching rooms, and the study areas are at the bottom of the building, easily accessible for students of all the faculties on campus. The study associations are also based here. Offices and research spaces are on the upper floors of the building, with flexible work and discussion areas, galley kitchens, repro services and meeting rooms.’

Awarding of the A.A.P

The winner will be announced on 20 May. The prize is an initiative of Arcam (Amsterdam Centre for Architecture).