Living and working behind the longest façade in Europe.
A brief history of this striking residential building work.
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte gave in 1811 a command to build barracks to improve the grandeur of the French Empire. In 1814 the barrack was completed and then formed the boundary of the city. In the same year the domination of the French ended. In the 19th century 1800 men are housed in the barracks. At those days it was not pleasant to live in the barracks: it was cold and drafty, with little light, and sanitary facilities were located on the back of the wooden barns. The building was a breeding ground for various diseases. It was also the Artis Zoo, on the other side of the building, who brought many animals into the barracks in order to hibernate. These exotic animals had bad odor and vermin with them.
The Oranje Nassau Barracks is known mainly by elderly Amsterdam mail, who since the Second World War appeared for the examination for military service.
In 1989 the barracks were no longer used for military purposes and nowadays the building is a national monument.
What to do with this building with a continuous length of 278 meters? A premature conclusion and thought was demolition as the only way out, but heritage and monumental care, with a group of active residents raised a protest. The formed group ”werkgroep Oranje Nassau Kazerne “ (Wonk) wanted to investigate whether this building, like the Entrepotdok, could be reallocated for live and work. Architectural firm van Stigt was asked to make a feasibility study.
The College of B & W decided, based on the feasibility study, to make a plan to realize 126 accommodations, 56 residential units and 3,000 m² of commercial space in the main building of the Oranje Nassau Barracks.
The entire building was cleaned and additional windows and gates were added. In the roof loggias were made and over the entire length, roof windows were made for more light indoors. The main structure of the complex has been preserved. At the two heads (both sides of the complex) houses are made and on the ground floor business units are realized. Above the first, second and third floors are again living quarters. Balconies were not possible for the residents, so they were given an “extra area” like a sort of permanent winter garden added to their living room. In mid 1990, the building is completed and occupied. The new buildings around, realized by various architects, completed the overall complex in 1992.
VISION OF ARCHITECT Van Stigt
“In the renovation of this project I looked at the building itself as a starting point, therefore I can say that “function follows form ” (instead of form follows function what mainly happens in architectural way).Van Stigt also says that more and more the philosophy is accepted that such a building as the Kazerne was never intended as a monument, and that such a building gets a different function in the course of centuries, and this may be shown.” Examples are the additional windows in the facade of the Sarphatistraat, added skylights and new internal staircases. This is the way how a monumental and lively part of town can function again with a mix of working and living that is so characteristic of urban society: the true interpretation of the compact city philosophy.