The catalogue accompanying the exhibition of the six competition designs at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
Designing a museum of architecture is a prestigious commission. The NAI was faced with an important choice: who should design the building? How should the brand-new institute present itself? In order to select an architect, a multiple commission was organized in the form of a competition to which a limited number of architects were invited. The client - the NAI's provisional board - hoped this procedure would generate surprising results.
The future architecture institute was to be given a detached location in the northern section of Museumpark. The site was about one hectare in size, but only half of that area could be used for the building as the rest was set aside for a park. Surrounded by public spaces as it is, the building is exposed on every side, which is why all walls were to have a "frontage character". Moreover, the building's location and appearance would have to create order in what was then a cluttered enclave, the purpose of which was not clear. The building itself was to provide the impetus for an attractive urban milieu.
> The land on which the new architecture institute was to be built. To its left, Rochussenstraat, to its right Museumpark, and in the foreground Mathenesserlaan. Photograph: NAI.
The design commission and the program of requirements were based on the building's future use. The NAI's motto was "history as a source of contemporary design commissions", its key tasks were the collection, management and accessibility of archives and collections - including the library; the study of this material and monitoring of current developments; the dissemination of the knowledge this generates in the form of exhibitions, publications and events. The new building was described in such terms as "treasure-house", "study room" and "party hall". A large part of the building was designated for the storage of valuable archival records that were to be kept under the right conditions in depots. As a result, most of the building would be inaccessible. At the same time, it had to be attractive and inviting enough for the public at large. This paradox was one of the greatest challenges in its design.
The architect of the new building was chosen on the basis of the multiple commission. A number of architects were invited to create a provisional design. An evaluation committee would then study each plan and assess its vision, program, costs and technical aspects, without indicating any preference or order of ranking. The client would then make its own choice from the plans submitted. The reason for following this procedure was, quite simply, that the institute did not yet have an executive committee to appoint an architect. An additional advantage of this procedure is that it could generate surprising results. An exhibition of the designs could be organized in an attempt to interest the public in architecture and design views, which was, after all, the new institute's objective.
The then Minister for Welfare, Public Health and Culture (WVC), Elco Brinkman, was willing to finance the multiple commission and the exhibition of the plans. Because he felt that it should emphasize a manifestation of Dutch architecture, no more than two foreign architects could be invited. In the end, the following architects were selected [link: architectenkeuze]: Benthem en Crouwel, Jo Coenen, Rem Koolhaas, Wim Quist, and, from outside the Netherlands, Luigi Snozzi and Ralph Erskine. Erskine dropped out at the last minute and was replaced by the Dutch architect Hubert Jan Henket. Individual quality was a key selection criterion for the client, but both older and younger architects had to be represented, while the architects also had to represents different architectural schools.
Choosing an architect is no easy matter. Apart from having to review the six designs, the client was also presented with the evaluation committee's report, recommendations from the steering group, documents from various of advisors such as consulting engineers, cost experts, the Government Buildings Agency and employees of the future NAI. Rem Koolhaas was a favorite with the general press and the trade press, and their analyses were also included in the decision-making. In important commissions such as these, even though they have been issued by a private institute, it is natural that the municipal council also wants to have a say in the selection of an architect. Director of the Department of Urban Development, Riek Bakker, also preferred Koolhaas' design, as it incorporated the longitudinal axis in the Museumpark design which she herself had wanted for so long.
> Design drawing by OMA for the NAI. NAI Collection, OMAR Archives.
> Competition drawing of Coenen's design for the NAI, 1988. NAI Collection, MOAI Archives.
However, the NAI decided otherwise and granted Jo Coenen the design commission. From a statement by the board: "Coenen's design paints a distinctly expressive and differentiated picture of the institute's functions. The design of the building elements does not focus on an overt modernism, but rather on a timeless repertoire that represents the equivalency of the history and topicality of the institute's formula." (NAI press release, October 3, 1988). The practicality, expression and references to the history of architecture had won over the conceptual strength of Rem Koolhaas' design.
"Dear clients, please give Rem Koolhaas a monumental
commission at last. This building has more than international appeal. It has
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For the first time in its fifteen-year history the NAI has transferred
the entire archive of an architecture firm from the collection depot to
the exhibition gallery.
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The city of Lille in Northern France aims to develop into a business
center rivaling London or Brussels. OMA, the office of Rem Koolhaas,
has given form to this ambition in the Euralille master plan.
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On the occasion of the European launch of Al Manakh: Gulf Continued, the Netherlands Architecture Institute, in cooperation with Archis/Volume, organized a debate around urgent questions that address both recent developments in the region itself, as well as motivations behind this ambitious endeavor to capture and unlock these complex developments in 536 pages.
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The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) and the Netherlands
Architecture Fund (Stimuleringsfonds voor Architectuur) are
delighted to introduce the three new teams which will be elaborating
their design proposals under the wings of the Studio for Unsolicited
Architecture, Design & E-Culture from September 2012. The selection committee thought that the
questions addressed by these three proposals and the chosen research
methodologies were surprising, while responding to societal needs in a
topical and relevant manner. One feature they share in common is that
each searches for a way in which design can unite and renew the
fragmented landscape of consumers, the people faced by problems and
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