Architecture style of the ‘Nieuwe Bouwen’
This sports hall stands on the corner of Apollolaan and Stadionweg, close to the spot where the Noorder Amstelkanaal and the Zuider Amstelkanaal converge. It was the second building – the first being the Open Air School by Jan Duiker (1930) – to be built in the style of the Nieuwe Bouwen – the Dutch branch of the Modern Movement – in Berlage’s monumental Plan Zuid (1917–1925) and is in sharp contrast to the closed brick walls of Plan Zuid’s Amsterdam School architecture. The architects of this international movement of the interwar period were aiming at an architecture that reflected the zeitgeist – industrialization and technological progress -, with light, open structures of steel, concrete and glass.
A major commission
The architect Albert Boeken (1891-1951) was commissioned to design the Apollo complex, comprising indoor tennis courts, an exhibition hall, a café-restaurant and a director’s residence. It was in effect Boeken’s only major commission and it earned him an international reputation. The building was originally intended to be semi-permanent, built to last twenty years. It is, however, already seventy-eight years old. Boeken designed a light, airy structure, allowing maximum penetration of daylight. It is an early example of steel skeleton construction, which made large, clear spans possible. The walls have no load-bearing function, enabling the use of a light material. Because a glass roof was not technically possible, Boeken designed a seven metre high glass wall around the entire hall. This allowed too much light in for tennis players and so the windows were darkened.
Renovation after fire
During the war years, the hall was used as an ice skating rink and in 1954 the Du Midi cinema was added to the Apollo complex. The cinema was destroyed by fire in 1957, but was rebuilt by the architect Alexander Bodon and it remained in use until 1982. The building lay vacant until 2004 when it was acquired by the local council with the aim of converting it into council offices. Local opposition, however, caused the plan to be dropped and it was decided that the building’s original sports function should be retained, with the addition of two new gymnasiums. The Apollohal was renovated in 2004 – 2005 by the architectural firm J. van Stigt. It was restored to its original state wherever possible, while updating it to meet today’s requirements.