Amsterdam RAI

Europaplein 1
Alexander Bodon
Gemeente Amsterdam, Amsterdam RAI
Commercieel, Leisure

Congress and event complex

The RI (Rijwiel Industrie) was established in 1893 as a business association for entrepreneurs on the rapidly growing market for bicycles and for the first motor vehicles. The association held exhibitions which initially took place in the Paleis voor Volksvlijt (“Palace of Popular Crafts”). By 1921, the association had renamed itself RAI (Rijwiel Automobiel Industrie/Bicycle and Car Industry) and had its own building in Scheldestraat. This premises was clearly too small after World War II, so a new building was planned on Europaplein.

The present centre for congresses, exhibitions and other events on Europaplein was designed by Alexander Bodon and opened on 2 February 1961. The complex has a floor area of 87,000 m2 and consists of 22 conference rooms and 11 exhibition rooms. The detailed brief specified one large hall, one small hall, six conference halls and an extensive foyer space. The overall volume is L shaped.

The part of the building that communicates directly with the exhibition halls has a concrete skeleton, and the remainder uses structural steel. Spatial continuity of the interior took a high priority. An important design principle was that the attractive location of the complex on the edge of Beatrixpark should be visible from inside the building. The structural members were therefore made as slender as possible, the interior floor is at practically the same height as the ground outside, and the two halls and the large foyer have external walls glazed from floor to ceiling.

An 11 storey extension to the RAI building was completed in 2009. The extension, called Elicium, provides a new exhibition hall, offices and conference rooms. It was designed by Benthem Crouwel Architekten. (ARCAM)