Double dutch

We’re having a dutch day because last week Architectural Record announced its annual Design Vanguard for 2006 and one of the winners was the Rotterdam architectural firm BAR architects (yes even more crap flash animation).

We had seen their bridge house but we didn’t know about several interesting adaptive reuse projects.

The retirement home for junkies (yes, you read that correctly, Netherlands has never fallen for drug war idiocy) houses 28 addicts.

Their rooms are at the back seperated from the administration area at the front by these service units. According to the architects the over-scale photo-print ivy wallpaper is not a reference to drug-induced hallucination, it is designed to ease the drastic transition from a life roaming the streets to life spent under a roof. Hmmm, yeah.

The BAK contemporary arts centre is in a 17th-century building in the historic center of Utrecht.

The architects inserted a 28-foot-high, glass-and-galvanized-steel element behind the old facade, creating space for service functions. Stairs, toilets, reception area, pantry, library, and storage space are all integrated into the new element. Glass floors allow visitors to appreciate the full height of the modern insertion.

It no doubt allows visitors to appreciate other things as well.

But the one we really like is this, the “Mies-Meets-Granpré” mobile meeting space. It has a polyester skin decorated with imitation bricks and can be delivered to the site on a standard trailer chassis. Everyone knows who Mies was, Granpré (Marinus Jan Granpré Molière) was a dutch traditionalist architect and planner who died in 1972.

It is described as “a comment on the struggle between Modernism and traditional design”, not exactly an original theme, but it is done well and with humour, something architecture lacks on the whole.

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