Gemeenschappelijk Administratiekantoor (G.A.K.)

Bos en Lommerplantsoen 1
B. Merkelbach, P. Elling, A. Bodon, C. van Eesteren
E. van Bierkom en I. Boks (inrichting kantoor)
Bus 80; tram 7-13-14-20
Bouwkundig Weekblad, nr. 26, 1960, p 585-597; Ben Rebel e.a., Ben Merkelbach, Architect en Stadsbouwmeester, Amsterdam, 1994.

Office building near Bos en Lommerplein

Merkelbach collaborated with Elling and Bodon on the design for the Gemeenschappelijk Administratie Kantoor, because in the design and realization phase Merkelbach had handed over and terminated his responsibilities. The location and form of the building were still unknown when it was commissioned. The programme of requirements described the functions the building and the 3,000 employees were to fulfil and contained no description of the future building.

The client wanted the costs of maintenance of the material and finish to be used for the building to be low. The architects were to avoid luxury. In his response to this design task, Merkelbach employed materials and constructional methods which were modern at that time. At the suggestion of the architects, a site was chosen in Amsterdam near Bos en Lommerplein, next to the present-day A10. Together with the head of Urban Development and Public Works, C. van Eesteren, the architects carried out research into the ideal form of the building. The conclusion was that a building with ten to eleven storeys would be ideal for communication. The main activity in the building was the exchange of documents, which at that time still took place by means of the documents lift. The depth of the building, nineteen metres, was determined by the maximum reach of the air-conditioning system at that time. The more expensive steel frame was chosen instead of the cheaper concrete frame. This solution involved fewer working hours than the concrete frame and central government would only approve the design if it put as little pressure as possible on Amsterdam’s labour market.
The building comprises a middle section and two wings. In the central section are facilities such as canteens and transport systems. In addition to the documents lift, the building also has a lift for visitors. Members of staff used the escalators, which operated at the beginning and at the end of the working day. The wings house the offices, which were subdivided into separate office spaces of varying size by means of demountable partitions. During the design process, interior designers advised the client and architects with regard to a ‘decent’ layout, furniture and fittings. The eleventh storey of the south wing contained the directorate’s rooms and conference rooms. In the north wing, this storey was occupied by a roof terrace. At this moment a new function for the building is sought. (ARCAM/NvH)