Amare cultural palace: a complex cultural colossus

Joël van der Ree
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This article appeared in Pi in January 2022. Photography is by Riesjard Schropp. The English translation is automatically generated and may contain errors.

At 54000 m², Amare is the largest cultural building in the Netherlands. The impressive structure on Spuiplein is the new home of Stichting Amare, the Residentieorkest, the Nederlands Danstheater and the Royal Conservatory. Because Amare aims to be not only a cultural palace with international allure but also a welcoming "house of the city," you have free access to a large part of the building. Architects NOAHH, JCAU and NL Architects provided Amare with a 125-meter-long passageway, allowing the building to connect well with its surroundings. Two existing cultural buildings had to make way for Amare: the Lucent Danstheater and the Dr. Anton Philipszaal.

Uniting wishes

The municipality of The Hague awarded the DBM (design, build, maintain) contract for Amare to construction consortium Cadanz (Boele & Van Eesteren | Visser & Smit Bouw). The bar for the complex project was high. Ferry Van Bruchem, construction manager at Cadanz: "Cadanz was responsible for the design, construction and maintenance. We were dealing with three main users in this project, plus the municipality's operating company. The wishes and requirements of these four parties had to be united in the design."


The sound bouncers above the Concert Hall stage were initially designed as solid wooden panels, but this made them far too heavy. Gielissen came up with a solution for this: a metal container covered with veneer.


Acoustics and sustainability

Amare has four halls: the Concert Hall, the Ensemble Hall, the Theater Hall and the Rehearsal Hall. They are separate from each other for acoustic reasons, all four on their own foundations. Thus, the sound from one hall does not spread to the rest of the building and the halls are not affected by each other. Van Bruchem: "What matters most in a building like this is the acoustics. All users must be able to make music at the same time. Things like reverberation, impact sound and airborne sound play an important role in this. Two acoustic agencies worked on this project, and the high demands of the users provided a more in-depth approach."

Because of the many technical and acoustic requirements the halls had to meet, interior designer Gielissen was involved in the project from the design phase. Van Bruchem: "During the design phase of the rooms, Gielissen provided good technical advice regarding the feasibility, and contributed ideas for the interior work in particular. For example, on the 3D finishing of the boxes in the Concert Hall." Marco van Maaren, senior project manager at Gielissen: "For six months, I participated in weekly sessions with the client to get from technical design to final design. The challenge was mainly in the high acoustic requirements and the desired BREEAM excellent standardization."


Van Bruchem is pleased with the good acoustics in the halls. "We paid a lot of attention to that. We even made a large mock-up in a warehouse in the port of Rotterdam to make sure that the designed technical solutions would actually work acoustically."

Absorption and reflection had to be taken into account in the halls. This required ingenuity on the part of the interior designers. Van Bruchem mentions the sound bouncers hanging above the Concert Hall stage as a special feature. "These were initially designed as solid wooden panels, but this made them much too heavy. Gielissen came up with a solution for this, based on expertise from their shipyard: they constructed a metal container and covered it with veneer. So they actually came up with good viable solutions throughout the project." Jaap Verberne, senior account manager at Gielissen: "Because of the acoustics, you want to prevent the furniture from vibrating with it. That means making rigid furniture and thick heavy walls. For example, we fully acoustically weighted the loaf boxes with curved edges in the Concert Hall." That all the effort was not in vain is evident from the fact that the Residentie Orchestra is very satisfied with the sound quality, and from the positive reactions after the building opened. Verberne: "I heard that even internationally there is lyrical response to the acoustics in the Concert Hall."

The loaf boxes with curved edges in the Concert Hall are fully acoustically weighted.



In addition to interior construction in the Concert Hall and Ensemble Hall, Gielissen was also responsible for some of the remaining interior. Van Bruchem: "They built counters, pantries and washbasin furniture, and did the oak wall paneling of the studios." Verberne: "Behind that oak wall paneling is an awful lot of technology hidden away, such as absorbers and sound bouncers. We finished the sink units with beautiful Kerrock countertops." In addition to Gielissen Interiors, Gielissen Exhibitions was also involved in the execution. Says Van Bruchem, "Because the employees of the expo branch had little to do during the corona crisis, they worked on our project: a win-win situation where they could keep people on the job and we could hire their specialized craftsmen." All in all, Van Bruchem is very positive about the interior designer: "As a contractor, you obviously look at the quality of the work delivered, but also at the cooperation. I had never worked with Gielissen before, but I am enthusiastic. And I think it's great that we delivered the building, incorporating all the requirements in design and realization. I joined halfway through the project and thought: we're never going to get that done in 2.5 years. But we did it!


The practice rooms for the Royal Conservatory of Music feature oak wall finishes. Behind the walls is a large amount of technology.


Client — Gemeente Den Haag
Architect — NOAHH, Jo Coenen Architects & Urbanists, NL Architects
Interior design — NOAHH, Jo Coenen Architects & Urbanists, Brunn Ontwerp, Studio Aziz Bekkaoui
Interior construction — o.a. Gielissen Interiors | Exhibitions | Events, Harryvan Interieurbouw
Consultancy acoustics  — LPB | Sight, Studio DAP, Ben Kok
Landscape architect — OKRA Landschapsarchitecten
Contractor — Bouwcombinatie Cadanz (Boele & Van Eesteren | Visser & Smit Bouw)


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