Muiderkerktoren, a special project with a 100% student building site
The Tower of the Muiderkerk (Muider church) has stood as a lonely ‘marker’ on the Linnaeusstraat across from the Tropenmuseum for years. Whoever looks at the tower, has to note that it stands in a very strange way against the new building of the Institute of the Tropics. Andre van Stigt: “the tower is in fact a caricature, because it has had no function since the fire that destroyed the church in 1989. It does still have a symbolical meaning as the social heart of the church. Viewed from the Linnaeusstraat it is a striking neoclassicistic landmark, lying just outside the citywalls. The architect of the church, G. W. Fixsboxse, has a few churches to his name, the Muiderkerk was built in 1892”.
Andre van Stigt is as an architect connected to the project Muiderkerk. As an architect he regularly collaborates with Constructioncompany M.J. de Nijs. The reason for his involvement is of a special nature; in 2009 he received the Piet Kranenberg Ring from Duco Stadig, former alderman of Amsterdam and churchwarden of the Reformed Muiderkerk community. Andre added, from his position in the Foundation Agora Europa, a caretaker role to the renovation of the Muiderkerktoren (2010), as a symbol of the credo: A new life for old buildings.
Sustainable management for non-monuments like the Muiderkerktoren is quite a problem. Andre van Stigt wanted first to address the overdue maintenance of the tower, a next step would be to add a meaning to the municipal monument; that status the church does have. He turned to the city district and a housing corporation for help, but that didn’t work out. Luckily De Nijs was willing to take the risk and they could return a social significance to the tower.
The focus of this project is to maintain the craft of construction. The input of students, accompanied by a teacher on the building site is of great importance in this project.
Restoration of the tower with students
Extra floors were added; bringing the distance between floors from 5 to 2,5 meters. A lift construction was also added, and the light entry was improved in the tower.
The work that the students do on this project matters a lot to Van Stigt: “making wood joints, or learning to cooperate; the students learn that working on a project like this, a lot of specialties come together. And don’t forget that the necessary discipline is also taught here; developing a work pace, and showing up on time. The students mainly learn by practice”.
In the maintenance management of a large city like Amsterdam a lot can be improved according to Andre van Stigt: “not only are they far behind, a lot of things go wrong. That’s why I appeal to the teacher to work together with the students on structural social care for the buildings. The training of these students shouldn’t be a luxury; it can even be done budget neutral, by putting one teacher on four students. That teacher can very well be a 55 years-plus, coming from a company he has worked for before. They can as no other transfer their craft on students that are open to knowledge and that like to work with their hands. Amsterdam has to regain its pride for its craftsmen, and that is badly needed”.
In course of the process, Stadsherstel Amsterdam was willing to take over the tower to exploit. A tenant has been found in a cooperation of pediatricians, that will hold practice on this remarkable place in East Amsterdam.
In the summer of 2012 this project was finished; now the tower stands in full glory on the Linnaeusstraat, across from the Oosterpark.