Jan Benthem and Mels Crouwel had studied together at the Technical University of Delft and started a practice together that has been providing excellent architectural services for over 25 years now. Their main focus is to offer an architecture based on the human needs and on functionality and not on appearances. Their love for new, modern materials has influenced their design line which can be considered bold and untypical. Glass, steel, aluminium predominate in their designs and created shapes and textures fit to today’s trends.
Jan Benthem and His Almere House appeared in unusual circumstances. During a competition entitled “Unusual homes” in Almere, participants had to design a home in a series of houses on plots in Almere. The winners of the competition were offered a 450-m2 rent free lot where they could build their projects and which had to be given back in 5 years empty of any trance of the project. That immediately implied that their structure should have been one that could easily be moved or dismantled. Thus Jan Benthem and Mels Crouwel proposed a project designed out of inexpensive materials that could be recycled afterwards. Building regulations were not an important consideration and they were encouraged to imagine an unusual, strange looking home.
The Almere house resembles at first a dwelling house. The building’s structure consists of a three-dimensional framework made of steel elements and is very present in the overall image created by the two architects. The home is thus lifted from the ground, protecting its inside.The street facade is painted in green and exudes and installation vibe. The back facade which is oriented towards the garden is made all entirely our of glass and shuts with venetian blinds. Behind it hides the living room extended to the entire length of the house. The kitchen, bathroom and bedroom areas have been separated from the exterior glazing, arranged on the street side of the house, covering only 16 square meters combined. The rest of 48 square meters have been generously offered to the living room.
To many this experimental home seemed like an unlivable space, especially during hot summer days due to its large glass facade.The interior ambiance is one of minimalism, with little to no personal impact, the atmosphere seems very sterile and..clean. The panoramic view from the living room is a beautiful one of a green empty field and is, for now, not blocked in any way. In matters of storage, the home itself does not provide lots of room and the necessary storage is being supplied by an additional container next to the home. The access to the elevated home is done through a steel stairway that lead to a building-length veranda that extends visually the interior space and is separated by it only by the glass facade. The utilized materials, glass, steel, aluminium and the architects’ choice of leaving the aluminium beans apparent, along with the cold textures generate an atmosphere of an unwelcoming, cold home. But despite the general feeling and opinion, the Almere House is still inhabited by Jan Benthem due to the fact that the competition entries where considered a huge success and did not have o be dismantled after all.
The house was designed for an ‘unusual homes’ competition held by De Fantasie in Almere. The brief was to design a house without taking into account current building regulations. All prize-winners were awarded a plot of land on loan for five years. This meant that the house and its foundations had to be easy to dismantle. In the compact house, the living room is bounded on three sides by glass sheets to gather the surrounding landscape into the house. Sandwich panel walls enclose the private zone comprising the two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom. The extraordinary construction of the house combats wind pressure in three ways. The space-frame floor structure is attached to a foundation of concrete slabs, stabilizing fins are placed strategically at the seams of the toughened glass sheets and finally two steel tension cables secure the lightweight profiled steel roof borne aloft by the glazing.”
Jan Benthem’s and Mels Crouwel’s main projects
2014 Grotiusgebouw, Nijmegen
2014 Hörsaalzentrum, Osnabrück
Osnabrück´s universities around the Westerberg required a new shared lecture and study building due to an expansion. The new hall will be used primarily by the University of Applied Science (Fachhochschule). The University of Osnabrück (Universität) will be able to cover the peak demand for space for examinations and scientific meetings in the Hörsaalgebäude.
The master plan for the ‘Hochschulcampus Osnabrück’ is the framework in which the first building blocks (library, Forum, Hörsaalgebäude, campus and mensa) are included. The Hörsaalgebäude creates a link between the Forum and the campus area by the cutaway in the volume. There is a strong link to the outside area and a clear and recognizable entrance is created. The building contains 8 lecture halls, 24 meeting rooms, 4 project areas and a ‘learn landscape’.
The learn landscape is the core of the new university building; 1.000 m2 were students can meet, communicate, study together and exchange knowledge. Free study areas become more and more important in education, since the use of digital information and mobile devices. All levels of the learn landscape are connected by tables and objects to sit on, combined with movable furniture, to create flexible workspaces. Special attention was given to acoustics and lighting to create an comfortable atmosphere. The color green, used in the interior as well as exterior, refers to the origins of the university, which lie in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Landscape Architecture.
2014 Paleisbrug, ‘s Hertogenbosch
2014 Forecourt De Pont, Tilburg
2014 Holiday home, Texel
2014 Rotterdam Centraal Station
“Rotterdam has a new Central Station. This public transport terminal is re-anchored in the city centre and integrated in the European network of transport hubs created by the arrival of the high speed rail system (HSL). A Grand Station of international standing is created. In the design, the city is drawn to the new station by compacting the small-scale urban fabric round about so that railway zone and city become a single entity. The finer texture with its new sight lines and the mix of living and working will greatly improve the social climate of this zone.
On entering the tall light-filled station concourse, travellers have an overall view and see at once where the trains are. The sunken and widened passage beneath the tracks is a natural continuation of the concourse. Platforms have a largely transparent roof some 250 metres long spanning the entire track zone.
The entrance on Spoorsingel is a modest one in keeping with the low-key residential area there and the smaller passenger flow. In stark contrast, the tall glass and timber concourse on the city side is clearly the main gateway to the metropolitan city centre. The new building’s shape expresses the internal logistics of this transport hub. Marking the onset of Rotterdam’s ‘cultural axis’, the new Grand Central Station points the way to the city’s heart.
2013 Fletcher hotel, Amsterdam
“The Fletcher hotel is a new landmark for the city of Amsterdam. The 60 meter high hotel has a compact floor plan with a diameter of only 24 meters, resulting in a characteristic slim silhouette along the A2 to Amsterdam Southeast. The limited space is used as efficiently as possible. The lobby and coffee corner are on the ground floor. 120 rooms encircle the staircase and lifts in the heart of the hotel. On the sixteenth floor there are five meeting rooms, which can be linked together. The sky lounge is on the top (eighteenth) floor and the restaurant on the floor below. Both offer wide and impressive views over Amsterdam.
Parking spaces on the ground floor are hidden under a roof that is vegetation-covered, so that it blends into the green surroundings. There is an additional underground parking for 60 cars. By, among other things, the application of a thermal storage system and very high insulation, the hotel is given a GreenCalc B certification.
An facade made entirely of glass, shields the massive outer wall with round windows and makes the building distinctive, independent and transparent to the environment. The architecture of the opposite food strip is reflected in the circular motif. The color blue gives the hotel a striking appearance and simultaneously creates a powerful interaction with the sky. The ring-shaped patterns in blues return on the laminated glass and create depth. Through the windows of the rooms and the light on the facade, the building is illuminated at night. Hence the Fletcher Hotel is distinctly visible and identifiable to the environment, even after sunset.”
2013 PPS Renewal Rijnstraat, The Hague
2013 Bella Donna, office, Amstelveen
2013 Theater tower Amstelveen
2013 Bicycle and pedestrian tunnel, Amsterdam CS
2012 Datacenter AM3, Amsterdam
2012 PPS Court Breda
2012 Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam
2012 Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam
2012 Provincial hall Brabant, ‘s Hertogenbosch
2012 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
“Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum is renovated and enlarged. Designed by A.W. Weissman, the building is celebrated for its majestic staircase, grand rooms and natural lighting. These strong points have been retained in the design along with the colour white introduced throughout the museum by former director Willem Sandberg. The existing building is left almost entirely intact and in full view by lifting part of the new volume into space and sinking the rest underground.
Its entrance has been moved to the open expanse of Museumplein where it occupies a spacious transparent extension. The smooth white volume above the entrance, also known as ‘the Bathtub’ has a seamless construction of reinforced fibre and a roof jutting far into space. With this change in orientation and the jutting roof, the museum comes to lie alongside a roofed plaza that belongs as much to the building as to Museumplein. Against the backdrop of the old building, the white synthetic volume is the new powerful image of the Stedelijk Museum.
Besides the entrance, a museum shop and the restaurant with terrace are situated in the transparent addition on ground level. Below the square are among others, a knowledge centre, a library and a large exhibition hall of 1100 m2. From this lowest level in the building it is possible to move to a new exhibition hall in the floating volume level. Via two escalators in an enclosed “tube”, straight through the new entrance hall, the two exhibition areas are connected. This way the visitor crosses the entrance area without leaving the exhibition route and without being distracted by the public functions; visitors remain in the museum atmosphere.
The detailing and color on the inside of the old and new buildings is in alignment, making the explicit contrast between the old building and the new building barely noticeable when walking through the museum. The Weissman building is reinstated in its former glory as it embarks on a new life, facing Museumplein, under one roof with the new addition.”
2012 Residential building De Pijp, Amsterdam
2011 Crescendo Maaswaard, Venlo
2011 Flower Auction, Aalsmeer
2011 Lounge 1-2-3, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
2010 Academic Centre Dentistry Amsterdam
2010 Excellence Parking, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
2010 Port City 2 and 3, Rotterdam
2010 Muiderbrug, Muiden
2009 Deutsches Bergbau-Museum, Bochum
2009 Visitors’ Centre, Leiden
2009 Elicium RAI, Amsterdam
2009 Metropool, Hengelo
2009 Wilo, Zaanstad
2009 B.C.P. Jansen Instituut, Amsterdam
2008 Collective building Sloterdijk station, Amsterdam
2008 NatLab, Eindhoven
2008 Penthouse Las Palmas, Rotterdam
2008 Etrium, Cologne
2008 Las Palmas, Rotterdam
2008 Industrial building Van den Brandhof, De Meern
2006 Bridge HST, Hollandsch Diep
2006 House, Enschede
2006 Gasses depot VUmc, Amsterdam
2004 Auditorium RAI, Amsterdam
2004 House, Breda
2004 House, Amsterdam
2004 Plaza Arena, Amsterdam
2003-2012 House, Bergen
2003 World Trade Center, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
2002-2005 Health Care Centre, Lelystad
2002-2005 Zilverpark Car Park, Lelystad
2002-2003 Studio, Amsterdam
2002-2004 Control Tower, Schiphol Airport
2001-2004 Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam
2001 Cultuurstrip and Popcentre P60, Amstelveen
2001-2002 FOAM photo museum, Amsterdam
2001-2003 Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol
2000-2003 GEM Museum, The Hague
1999-2003 Bridges IJburg, Amsterdam
1999-2001 Hoge Maas, Rotterdam
1998 Popcentre 013, Tilburg
1998-1999 Benthem Crouwel Lab, Amsterdam
1997-2000 Central Lounge, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
1996-1999 Marseille house, Amsterdam
1996-1999 Airport, Lelystad
1996-2001 Villa Arena, Amsterdam
1996-1999 Alnovum WTC, Almere
1995-1998 Ahoy’ exhibition and congress center, Rotterdam
1995-1997 Cargo Building, Schiphol Airport
1994-1999 Leidsenhage, Leidschendam
1994-1999 Archive Zeeland, Middelburg
1994 Design Institute, Amsterdam
1993-1999 Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
1993-2001 Cultuurstrip, Amstelveen
1993-1998 Reeweg customs house, Rotterdam
1993-1997 NIOD, Amsterdam
1993-1995 Biology Lab , Amsterdam
1992-1995 Schiphol Plaza, Schiphol Airport
1992-1995 Station, Schiphol Airport
1992-1995 Tivoli multi-storey car park, Tilburg
1991-1993 Nieuw Land Poldermuseum, Lelystad
1991-1996 Malietower, The Hague
1990-1992 Bridge Open Havenfront, Amsterdam
“At the end of 1992, a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over Open Havenfront was officially opened as a link between Prins Hendrikkade and the island on which Central Station stands (Stationseiland). It also draws together the old town and the development on the banks of the IJ inlet. To bring out the railway station’s insular status, the bridge is a transparent, airy, graceful element tying the banks together without compromising the openness of the water between them. The lighting stresses both structure and siting, as well as harmonizing with the public lighting round about.”
1990-1993 House Rietveld, Tienhoven
“This house is an amplification of the one Jan Rietveld built in 1951. Set snugly in its green setting, it functioned as a holiday house. The new-build portion is set slightly back with regard to the original house. A discrete volume of glass and steel, it might seem the polar opposite of the original dwelling with its white-brick facades, gently undulating roof and outdoor stair to the terrace. Yet it does accord with this house. The two parts become one in the plan, and the modular system informing the older part reappears in the new portion at double the size. The darker brick of the old north-west facade gets a reprise in the new two-metre-long brick wall. Glass facades further intensify the rapport with the green surroundings. Both interior and exterior of the new feature are neutral; colour comes care of the furniture and the cycle of the seasons.”
1989-1995 Provincial Hall, Groningen
1989-2004 Terminal West, Schiphol Airport
1989-2004 Departures, Schiphol Airport
1989-2003 De Pont Museum, Tilburg
1987-1992 Wagon Lits and Ibis Hotel, Amsterdam
1987-1988 MORS company building, Opmeer
1986-1991 Residence Soutelande, The Hague
1986-1999 Piers, Schiphol Airport
1985-1986 Sonsbeek Pavillion, Arnhem
1984-1986 House Kralingse Plas, Rotterdam
1982-1984 House, Almere
1981-1982 House, The Hague
1980-1987 Customs stations, Dutch Border
© Courtesy of Benthem Crouwel Architekten