A meeting landscape for cultural riches
I became obsessed, a few years ago, while walking through Parque do Ibirapuera in São Paulo. I sat under the marquise (a covered walkway) of Oscar Niemeyer for hours, looking at all the different kinds of people and their activities under this enormous canopy. As divided as the rest of this city is, this place felt like a unified whole, as if it were a gigantic living room. This ‘open space’ made it possible for different layers of the population to meet each other.
A few years later, I also noticed an increasing amount of division here in the Netherlands. It was the time of the enormous refugee crisis. There was a great sense of fear, instead of interest in the other culture, the new riches that were entering our country. Why does Amsterdam not have any space where these cultural riches can be displayed, where people can meet, where it’s possible to build towards a new future together, such as the marquise in São Paulo?
I became inspired by the vacant Burgerweeshuis on the Amstelveensweg. An ideal of Aldo van Eyck from 1960, with which he wanted to offer orphans a ‘family’ by means of architecture. With its interior walkways, pavilions and patios, this dwelling felt like a small city. Can this building offer newcomers a visible place in the city in the very same way?
Not only Van Eyck’s Burgerweeshuis was vacant at that time. The Tripolis Towers, which he designed on the same plot 30 years later, was also standing there desolate and deserted. And that while being located at such a vibrant spot like the Zuidas district, which is an international hotbed of knowledge with its offices, the VU Amsterdam university campus and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. The ideal place for my culture campus.
Campus Cultura is a public roofscape where a world of culinary, educational, enterprising and cultural programmes can be found. Where issues, traditions, customs, crafts, characteristic traits and idiosyncrasies from other continents of (refugee) students in Amsterdam are given space and visibility.By adding a new covered ‘open’ space, the two Aldo buildings will be connected with each other, transforming them into a city that feels like one large house. An open fabric with spaces for public programmes will be situated under this new roof. In this landscape of columns, the resident and visitor will find, among other things, a sunken theatre, an auditorium, a studio, a dance floor and a stage. These sunken places offer enough seclusion or, on the contrary, openness so that you will be free to organise, connect, listen or participate. With gradation between public and collective atmospheres and between being inside and outside, this interspace provides opportunities for a range of encounters between residents and visitors.The residents of the campus are (refugee) students from various cultural backgrounds. They will live in the towers and will be able to work, study and reside at the campus. As a visitor, you will come for language lessons, lectures, events, to have delicious food and to sample the wide variety of cultures. For example, celebrating the Sugar Feast, an International Day of Commemoration, but also small activities and workshops, such as Syrian oud lessons or a workshop on weaving Kilim carpets.Campus Cultura offers a roof and shelter for the cultural riches of newcomers to Amsterdam. A roof and shelter for the architectural riches of Van Eyck. A roof and shelter for the social riches through which meetings and exchanges arise.
Graduation committee:Gianni Cito (Mentor), Donna van Milligen Bielke en Jaap Graber. Extra members for the examination: Ira Koers and Rik van Dolderen.