RAI Elicium

Europaplein 22
Mels Crouwel, Marcel Blom, Heyman Westerveld
Benthem Crouwel Architekten
Amsterdam RAI
VBK Groep
Tram 4, metro 50, 51, stop Rai
Dit project is o.m. gepubliceerd in Amsterdamse Architectuur 2009-2010; ARCAM POCKET 23. Klik hier voor meer boeken uit de reeks Â’ARCAM POCKETÂ’.

A new entry

Amsterdam’s frenzied building activity is also evident in Europaplein in the city’s ZuiderAmstel district. The area is being radically redeveloped because of the North/South metro line and a new district council office building was opened at the end of last year. Surrounded by all this building activity, the extension to the Amsterdam RAI, which increases capacity considerably and forms a new main entrance, has gone virtually unnoticed.

The history of ‘the New RAI’ goes back to 1950 when the council terminated the lease on the ‘the Old RAI’ on Ferdinand Bolstraat. A new site, which was favourably located in relation to approach roads and had sufficient parking space, was found slightly further south. The complex was designed by A. Bodon, B. Merkelbach and R. Fledderus and has gradually developed into the largest congress centre in the Netherlands. The starting point was to design a neutral exhibition building, which above all would not be too conspicuous.

Elicium by Benthem Crouwel Architects is intended to have precisely the opposite effect. The building, which is completely raised, grabs the eye and marks the new main entrance. It consists of a transparent low-rise section, which extends in an east-west direction, and a high-rise section at right angles to it (47 m). On the side of Europaplein, the elevation of perforated stainless steel panels has a closed character, whereas the elevation on the side of the Zuidas and Beatrixpark is glazed and, as it were, opens towards the existing buildings.

Elicium contains congress facilities, conference spaces, offices and a multifunctional ballroom. Overpasses connect the building to the two existing sections of the complex, thereby making new ways of using space possible. Visually, this connection is strengthened by the continuation of the blue line of light that accentuates the silhouette of the RAI. The intimate interior court can moreover be used for events.

Expectations are that Elicium will be fully taken into use in September. Boden said about the original design that the intention was to establish a maximum relationship between the interior space and the surroundings, something which also appears to apply to this latest extension due to the abundant use of glass. (ARCAM/FG)