Gerrit & Willem

A closed competition for a new building for the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, with the design to be crowd-sourced from the school’s students, staff and alumni. In the first phase, staff, students and alumni were invited to form teams and put forward a concept for the building. The best six were chosen to go forward to the second round, to develop their plans in more detail, after which a winner would be chosen. Alison Killing was the architect for one of these teams, MAG7, collaborating with Beatrix Zingerle, Charlotte Vermaning, Jelte Eikenaar, Marcin Przybyla, Ivo Clason and Barbara Iwanicka.

The hall inside of the building, looking towards the auditorium and large stairs leading to the roof.

The starting point for the design was the Rietveld Academy’s Basic Year, the first year at the academy, where all the disciplines are mixed together, before specialising in later years. At this point, the cross-pollination of disciplines in the Basic Year is gone – the departments function like isolated islands in a big ocean – swimming in the same sea, but otherwise unconnected, even when they share the same buildings.

The new building forms a flowing, connecting space which links the existing buildings on the site and contains a large amount of the shared studio space which we feel is so important to the working of the Academy. Within that flowing space are ‘sheds’ – closed rooms for department embassies, meeting rooms and project spaces. An academy with shared studio spaces, where it is easy, and even encouraged, to work alongside students from other departments, to collaborate and learn from each other. This strong interconnection between departments helps to create the feeling that you’re not studying at a department, but at the Rietveld Academy or Sandberg Institute.

At the same time, the departments (and also the two individual schools) have their own distinct identities. To support this, every department will have an ‘Embassy’, a home base where students and teachers of the department can meet, where class meetings can be held and teaching and working can take place. The Embassies will be surrounded by shared studio space. While students may choose to work close to their Embassy, they can also choose a workplace elsewhere in the buildings, near friends and colleagues from other departments, or to find the most suitable workspace for the project they wish to work on.

The entrance hall, in the gallery space next to the auditorium.

The courtyard between the existing Benthem Crouwel building and the workshops