Amstel 1
Wilhelm Holzbauer, Cees Dam en B. Bijvoet
Gemeente Amsterdam
Metro, halte Waterlooplein
Zie voor meer informatie over dit gebouw ook de rubriek 'Typisch Amsterdams' op

Combination of city hall and opera house

Plans for Amsterdam’s present city hall, eventually completed in the 1980s, started as long ago as 1937. A competition was held that year to design a new city hall to replace the old Frederiksplein premises.

The winners of the competition were Berhoef and Vegter, but their design was never realized. Following World War II, they submitted several new designs for the same location on Waterlooplein. In 1964, however, the city council decided to hold a new competition. It was won in 1968 by the Austrian architect Wilhelm Holzbauer.

The location for a new concert hall had similarly long remained undecided, so in 1978 Holzbauer produced a new design that combined the city hall with an opera house. The dual-function building was erected in the face of vehement protests by other architects and Amsterdam residents, and was nicknamed the Stopera (a contraction of Stadhuis and Opera House).

The critique of the protesters related mainly to the urban design of the project. They accused the designers of tunnel vision and of arrogance, and they scorned the administrative incompetence of the municipal government.

The building consists of two parts. The most prominent of these, the Opera House, faces the Amstel River. It has a glass facade screened by an array of white marble panels. The L-shaped city hall section, with relatively windowless, monontonous facades facing onto Waterlooplein, Amstelstraat and Oude Schans, is in brickwork. A public gallery, which may be reached from Amstelstraat or Waterlooplein, suggests some attempt by the city hall to reconcile itself with its surroundings.(ARCAM/IK)