Weteringschans 6-8
G.B. Salm
De Vrije Gemeente
Tram 1-2-5-6-7-10-20; bus 142-145-170-171-172-197
Lutgard Mutsaers, 25 jaar Paradiso, geschiedenis van een podium, podium van een geschiedenis 1968-1993, Amsterdam 1993; G. Hoogewoud, R. Louet Feisser, 'Vrije Gemeente/Paradiso moet blijven', Wonen TA/BK, september 1975; Jan Jaap Kuyt e.a., G.B.Salm & A. Salm GB Zn Bouwmeesters van Amsterdam, Amsterdam/Rotterdam 1997.
Cultuur, Leisure, Religie

Former church, now theatre for pop music

The ‘Vrije Gemeente’ was set up in 1877 by freethinkers who had belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church. Following a limited competition in 1879, Gerlof Bartholomeus Salm, who did not in fact win first prize, was commissioned to design a ‘society building’ with a modest facade. Together with his son Abraham, he designed a plain brick building with a strict symmetrical organization. The church building was consecrated on 2 May 1880.

From the street, the church is hidden from view by a front building, behind which is the church proper. On either side of the body of the church are galleries on cast-iron columns. The organ and the pulpit were in the apse, an element derived from early Christian architecture. This was a reference to the pure, uncorrupted Christian community. For the rest, the design is in keeping with the eclectic fashion of the period. In 1965, the Vrije Gemeente moved to a new building, designed by Gerrit Rietveld, in Buitenveldert and sold the old building. In 1968 it was given a new use as a cultural centre, Paradiso, which now has an international reputation. The austere architecture has since undergone minor alterations here and there. In 2002, new stained-glass windows were fitted in the building. (ARCAM/OD)