WAN Award 2009 ~ Civil Building joint Winner
Amsterdam library designed for things to come
In Jo Coenen’s works, the importance of contextualisation is self-evident. His architecture and his architectonic-urban designs not only fit in with their environment, but are also embedded in them – they absorb, reinforce and reflect the characteristics of their surroundings. The situation with respect to the OBA was quite a different one. A totally new urban development, of which the OBA was the first building to be constructed, is now emerging on the spot where the Central Station post office used to be, of which the high-rise building, known by the name of Post CS, is now the only remnant. Consequently, the library could not adapt itself to an existing context, but had to anticipate its future surroundings. Jo Coenen’s solution has been to search for a connection to what the future context might be, to predict which sensations might be evoked by those new surroundings.
Because of the area’s central location in Amsterdam, and as he was convinced that the library would become an important spot within that specific area, Jo Coenen designed the OBA as an urban meeting place, starting at the square in front of the building with the stairs leading up to the main entrance.
Coenen was obliged to precisely follow the prescribed alignments, both along the ground floor and the top floor. In between these two floors the building, with its somewhat curved façades and its slight rotation, recedes as much as possible in order to disengage itself from its surroundings, to allow an optimal view of the area and to offer its visitors and its future neighbours as much natural light as possible. The public nature of the building is not only accentuated by the transparency of the lower layers, but also by the way the building recedes and thus creates a public area under the huge canopy.
The other WAN Civic Building of the Year 2009 Winner ~ Manchester Civil Justice Centre by Denton Corker Marshall