Andre Cramer

Andre Cramer


OPEN in Amsterdam Oost

The transformation of an emotional monument

OPEN is a place for the development of knowledge and debate, but also for fun and experiments. It is situated in the former Tropenmuseum and KIT Institute in Oosterpark, a city park right in the middle of the bustling district of Amsterdam East. The monument has a fraught history, with its roots in the colonial past of the Netherlands. With design interventions that both preserve and renew, OPEN will make this history visible, and at the same time it creates space for a critical view of the past.

Despite their prominent location in the park and on the Mauritskade, both the Tropenmuseum and KIT Institute are not accessible from either side. By demolishing the former trade museum - the quadrant - OPEN will be a public place. As a result, the courtyard becomes the new heart of the building, and can be used for various programs. The Collection, The Square and The Residence all together form OPEN, the new cultural institute for (research into) the colonial collection.

The existing building is built in layers with a variety of materials: wood, brick, concrete, steel, stone and ceramics. I make these different material identities visible by literally exposing them. This creates a new space that does not refer to the past nor confronts it.

The square that will be created by the demolition of the quadrant, will offer a view of the new center of the institute: The Square. By placing The Square centrally, a new routing to and from the park is created. Also, the relationship with the city in the park is more noticeable, due to the see-through offered by the now transparent building. This makes it more than just a square for The Collection; it connects the various program parts as well as the city and the park.

The internal routing runs around the square. The visitor is led through spaces that have been alternately renewed and preserved, which creates a more conscious experience of the building and its layered history. At the debate center, the boundary between the square and the building is blurred, while the transparent plinth can be completely open, allowing the square to enter into the debate.

The Square is the heart that defines the other interventions. In the Square visitors can get acquainted with the cultural institute, but also recreate on the square itself. Objects and sculptures are exhibited on the square, thus blurring the boundaries between museum and public space. This also makes the art accessible to everyone, not just visitors to The Collection. The Debate is an extension of the square, with room for knowledge sharing in a sunken pit.

The Collection borders the square and is located where the museum used to be. This is the new location for the depot and all processes around. In the logistic street, objects arrive or are removed, there is a new restitution counter for the return of objects, and the workshop where research and restoration are carried out, are directly visible from the entrance hall. Making the depot visible is a response to the urge of museums to collect, but also to the architecture of the museum space. Indeed, the impressing light hall with waterfall staircase - which now only exhibits itself - is given a function: to exhibit the depot.

De Residentie makes use of the basilica where the KIT Institute used to be. The stately, historical spaces are deliberately retained to provide room for independent organizations, which can temporarily develop public interpretation here.


Graduation date: 23 August 2021
Graduation committee: Wouter Kroeze (mentor), Elsbeth Ronner, Aura Luz Melis
Additional members for the exam: Elsbeth Falk, Pnina Avidar

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