Benthem Crouwel Five Archetypes for a Changing World


Welcome: Ulrich Müller

Introduction: Dirk Laucke

The world is changing. Shifting social patterns create a new sense of public space. Innovative technology allows us more than ever to connect. Rampant individualism fuels fantasy worlds and crowd events. Dwindling resources trigger a search for ecological balance and sustainability. The buildings that house, surround and accommodate these changes still carry 19th-century nametags: railway station, department store, museum, concert hall, warehouse. Yet, their meaning has changed radically.

On this foundation of typologies, Benthem Crouwel focus on five building types whose origins reach back to the age of industrialization. Since then and over the years, present-day requirements of these types have been disconnected from their original content especially under the influence of new media. A museum is no longer just a place for the contemplative appreciation of art, and in contemporary concert halls events of every conceivable genre take place. Today’s train station is far more than just for travelers, and in certain warehouses vast quantities of data are stored instead of goods. A relative constant is, at best, attributed to the department store typology — if one would like to define the permanent adaptation to changing consumer behavior as a continuum. These building types are on the one hand “archetypal”, on the other their current configuration is inseparable from their respective socially and technological development. From this point of departure, architects are presented with a tremendous challenge in order to find contemporary solutions to this duality: These types of buildings must be highly unique in the brand-dominated consumer world, yet demonstrate extreme flexibility in order to be able to adapt appropriately and economically to changes in use and needs.

Benthem Crouwel show how bridging the duality can work through five projects that are exemplary of these named archetypes: the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam’s most well known museum for modern and contemporary art renovated and enlarged with a spectacular new extension in 2012; the Ziggo Dome (2012), Holland’s newest concert hall that seats 17,000 visitors; Rotterdam Central Station (2014), a station that is used by 300,000 travelers every day; the Datacenter AM3 (2012), which is located on one of the world’s largest internet hubs; as well as the Forum Mittelrhein (2013) in Koblenz, a mall whose facade resembling the foliage of grapevines is a reference to local tradition. The architects formulate their credo to expand our gaze and at the same time prompt us to: See, read, listen to the meaning of these buildings. Come and be the public, feel the vibe, go with the flow, make the connection and dream…