spanish firm cruz y ortiz arquitectos’ competition-winning design for the dutch treasure trove, rijksmuseum, will open its doors this week, 5 years over its deadline and tens of millions over budget. the 10 year architectural endeavor was complex, regarding both the technical challenges of the below-sea-level site in amsterdam and the massive conceptual task of overhauling a national institution. the mammoth project restores original architect’s plan and circulation pathways while updating the red-brick volumes with much-need light via a 24,000 square foot glass-topped atrium.

rijksmuseum renovation by cruz y ortiz arquitectos is complete
the museum was closed for a decade during the overhaul
all images courtesy of cruz y ortiz arquitectos (main image © pedro pegenaute)

 

 

symmetry, vaults and daylight are restored in the original pierre cuypers-designed rijksmuseum, but the expertly assembled team that included jean-michel wilmotte of louvre-exhibit fame, moved beyond cuypers both technically and conceptually. while building systems were synthesized in an energy ring and foundations were restored, a combination of excavation and ductwork integration yielded a consolidated inner courtyard bathed in natural light. the stone floors of the sunken level literally and figuratively render the existing building a more airy version of itself and is imagined as a casual space for performances and installations. the network of galleries seeks to weave together centuries of dutch artistic mastery and craft, bolstered by the architecture’s restored ornamental details.

rijksmuseum renovation by cruz y ortiz arquitectos is complete
an earlier view of the courtyards under construction

 

 

rembrandt’s famous ‘night watch’ hangs in a deep, navy blue room with a ceiling of black stars by richard wright, while ‘century rooms’ display models of ships, period-piece lanterns and other crafted objects. despite the original design being centered around and informed by ‘night watch’, the restored museum removed barriers of access to parts of the existing program — the three story cast-iron cuyper library will now be open to the public and contain iPads. the treasures of dutch culture seems to have found an appropriate and balanced new home, albeit one that carefully guards its strengths.

 

 

video © proudfoot

 

 

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