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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Youth centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Atelier Kempe Thill architects and planners

September 2nd, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Atelier Kempe Thill architects and planners


Youth- and neighbourhood centre “De hood” in Amsterdam-Osdorp, 2011

In the garden city

Osdorp grew during the extension of the city of Amsterdam after the Second World War on the basis of the urban plan of De Stijl – architect Cornelis van Eesteren. Since the nineties, a large urban renewal project is in progress in which the poorly maintained buildings are subsequently demolished and are replaced by new ones.  An attempt is made to eliminate the urban problems of the CIAM planning while nevertheless maintaining its qualities. One of these qualities is the green, lush areas between the building blocks.

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz)

  • Architect: Atelier Kempe Thill architects and planners
  • Name of Project: Youth centre
  • Location: Reimerswaalstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Client: Ymere Ontwikkeling
  • Team Atelier Kempe Thill: André Kempe, Oliver Thill, David van Eck, with Andrius Raguotis, Blanca Sanchez Babe, Ruud Smeelen, Giorgio Terraneo
  • Copyright holder of Images: Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz –  Ulrich Schwarz

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz)


  • Competition: January 2005
  • Commission: June 2009
  • Planning process: July 2009 – February 2010
  • Building process: April 2010 – January 2011


  • Site area: 150 m2
  • Building size: 285 m2
  • Building volume: 1350 m3
  • Urban planner: De Architecten Cie, Rotterdam
  • Supervisor: Volker Ulrich


  • Building Physics: Adviesbureau Nieman, Zwolle
  • Structural Engineer: BREED Integrated Design, Den Haag
  • Service Engineer: Adviesbureau Nieman, Zwolle
  • Quantity Surveyor: Atelier Kempe Thill
  • Tender documents: Bureau Both, Haarlem
  • General Contractor: ERA Contour, Zoetermeer

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz)

In 2005, Atelier Kempe Thill won an invited competition to construct within such an area of the Reimerswaalbuurt“ a small youth- and neighbourhood centre. The task was to integrate the small building as carefully as possible in the existing tree population, to keep enough distance to the adjacent building blocks and to design a monumental, polydirectional and well visible free-standing building.

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz)

Two room types

The realized building consists of the simple stacking of two – diametrically opposed – concepts of space. The ground floor level is designed as a flat sandwich-space, which opens up completely to the surroundings thanks to the glazing on all sides. The public green with its dominated tree canopy becomes part of the interior and generously extends the small space to the outside. This effect is enhanced by the modest interior design and the greyish colour scheme.  Used as a „public living room“ of the neighbourhood, activities on the inside are well visible and stimulate the direct interaction with the public space.

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz)

On the upper floor is the Community Hall. In order to realise the desired multi-functionality and neutrality, it has a fully closed façade and forms a hermetic and introspective space. Its desired, very neutral appearance is offset by its generous ceiling height and two skylights that illuminated the space naturally. The room is deliberately kept modest with whitish colours in order to maximize the effect of the skylights on the interior. With this, the hall is given a very specific character without limiting its multi-functionality.

Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz

The combination of these two room types, the open and closed space, determines the appearance and character of the building. From the outside, this is directly visible and dominates the design of the façade. On the inside, the contrast between the two room constellations determines the perception and surprises, as the fully enclosed room is much brighter than the fully opened.

Interior View (Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz)


As usual in these projects, the available construction budget was very low. In order to realise a spatially appealing building within this framework, it was necessary to apply a variety of very cost-efficient construction methods.

Like a cheap industrial compound, the building is made of a steel framestructure witha wall infill of sand-lime brick. All technical installations are integrated in the walls and the floors, so no lowered ceilings where necessary, which contributes to higher rooms. The glass facade is made from an inexpensive all-glass system, which uses large glass pannels up to 5 metersin length, clamped only on two sides with a 5cm high steel profile.

Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz

The structural glazing doors were specifically designed for this project. A polyurethane spray system was applied for the closed part of the façade that normally is used in the insulation of oil tanks and pig shed. The insulation is sprayed onto the sand-lime brick in liquid form and froths up on-site. Then, the very rough surface is finished with an UV protective coating. The appearance of the exterior façade is essentially derived by the creative tension between the two systems; on the extremely smooth, transparent and reflective glass base rests a rough and scale-less polyurethane box.

Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz

The interior is governed by a similar economic and creative approach. The slightly rough concrete floor is only coated with a layer of polyurethane; the ceiling is covered with an acoustic spray plaster. Contrarily to this, large reflective interior glazing, smooth industrial lights and two elegant steel staircases were installed.

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz)

CV Atelier Kempe Thill:

Since the nineties, contemporary architecture is being confronted with a contradictory phenomenon. Architects are asked on one hand to produce very neutral and anonymous buildings adaptable to different programs. On the other hand at the same time, they are asked to create very specific buildings easy to identify with unique spaces. Atelier Kempe Thill – founded in 2000 by two German architects André Kempe (Freiberg, *68) and Oliver Thill (Karl-Marx-Stadt, *71) – takes this modern paradox very consciously as the point of departure of the work. The office tries to create structures that are neutral and economic as well as being specific and innovative. The aim of the work is to achieve “Specific Neutrality” that gives architecture the possibility to express the hidden vitality of our time.


Various commissions for public buildings, collective housing and urban planning in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Morocco


Exterior View (Images Courtesy Architektur-Fotografie Ulrich Schwarz - Ulrich Schwarz)


Ground Floor

Roof Plan

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