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's Lands Zeemagazijn (Maritime Museum)
Address Kattenburgerplein 1
City district Stadsdeel Centrum
Architect D. Stalpaert, DOK Architecten (renewal), Rappange Architects (renovation), Ney + Partners (glazed roof)
Commissioner Admiralty of Amsterdam (1656) and Rijksgebouwendienst (2011)
Realization 1656
How to get there Bus 22, 32
Category Culture
More information
The restored Maritime Museum, architectural guide
Horst, Diek van der (ed.), Aan 't schipryk Y...'Oude en jonge monumenten rond de historische oevers van het IJ. Gemeentelijk Bureau Monumentenzorg, Amsterdam 1995.

Amsterdamse Architectuur 2011-2012. ARCAM POCKET 25.

Winner Gouden A.A.P. 2012


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Former admiralty warehouse, now Maritime Museum
The historic Dutch Republic had five Admiralties or sections of the navy. Together they were responsible for defending the Republic’s territory from threats by sea and for protecting the extensive merchant fleet. The Admiralty of Amsterdam long stored the goods needed for pursuit of their duties – shipbuilding materials, cannons and gunpowder – in warehouses on the islands Rapenburg, Valkenburg and Uilenburg. These artificial islands, reclaimed around 1600, now form part of Amsterdam’s eastern city centre. The Admiralty of Amsterdam commissioned the city architect Daniël Stalpert (1615-1676) with the task of designing a large national naval warehouse (‘s Lands Zeemagazijn) which they used for storing all their materials from 1656 onwards.

The square building has a central courtyard and is surrounded on all sides by water, which originally facilitated the loading and unloading of cargoes. Like the Paleis op de Dam, it was designed in the Dutch Classicist style. The style is sparing and reticent, but the architectural effect is an imposing one.

A central ressault was added to all four faces of the storehouse in 1740. These projecting sections helped stabilize the facades. Each ressault was topped by a fronton with sculptural relief, and these remained the only purely ornamental features of the building. The doorways through which supplies were hoisted are still visible in the facades. In a renovation which the building underwent following a fire in 1791, the brick walls were plastered with layer which gives the appearance of a building constructed in large sandstone blocks.

After the Admiralty was abolished in 1795, the building continued to serve as a storehouse for the national navy. Since 1973, however, it has been home to the Dutch National Maritime Museum. The building is to reopen in 2011 after years of renovation and alterations by DOK Archtiecten. The commission of the redevelopment of the National Maritime Museum was awarded in 2005 and since then the museum has undergone a true metamorphosis. The reasons for the makeover were twofold. On the one hand, the building was in urgent need of refurbishment and, on the other, the museum had to be reorganized in order to accommodate the anticipated increase in visitor numbers. The central aim was to reinstate the building’s original character.
To this end, the landing stages that had been erected around this former naval warehouse over the years were removed, so that now the building once again stands, sturdy and autonomous, directly in the water. The most radical alteration to the monumental structure is the glass roof over the inner courtyard, the inspiration for which was the compass roses and lines on old nautical charts. gently curved steel structure measuring thirty by thirty metres as transformed this exterior space into a central interior space, which functions as an orientation and starting point for visitors. This new so-called ‘open pleyn’ gives direct access to the building’s various wings. The old groined vaults are once again visible and the original visual axes between the courtyard and the water have been reinstated. Moreover, a large number of vertical connections have been created with stairs that partially resemble ladders. The combination of all these interventions has resulted in a completely new internal organization and thus a fundamental revitalization of the monumental building. (ARCAM/YK/CL)