Its fifty diverse courtrooms, over one thousand employees including two hundred judges and 140,000 judgments per year, make the Amsterdam District Court by far the largest of the eleven courts in the Netherlands. The new Amsterdam District Court was designed and constructed by consortium NACH (New Amsterdam Court House). The consortium includes Macquarie Capital, ABT, DVP, KAAN Architects, Heijmans and Facilicom. In 2016, NACH entered into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the State. In addition to building and financing the building, the PPP is an agreement for 30 years of maintenance and facility services for the court by Heijmans and Facilicom.
What made the collaboration in the consortium special is that the initiative was taken by Macquarie Capital and ABT and all parties participated on a risk basis. It ensured equal cooperation, strong teamwork and a perfectly fitting design within the client’s estimated cost. ABT was one of the initiators of the consortium. Our role was the integral technical design including construction, foundation, building physics, installations, acoustics, security and (fire) safety. We worked together with Oosterhoff sister companies bbn consultants, Meelis & Partners and Huygen.
Transparent and safe
The Central Government Real Estate Agency wanted a transparent building without compromising the safety of employees and visitors. These were the principles the team focused on from day one. With success: now there stands an imposing building that is both magisterial and inviting.
Stylish, inviting building
The architectural design is based on the premise that in a constitutional state, justice is a public business interwoven with everyday life. The 50-meter-high building has a perfect open character. Large windows in the lower half of the building offer a view from the street of the crowds inside. The spacious foyers circling the courtrooms are the place for visitors, eight hundred to a thousand a day, lawyers in their gowns with their clients, reporters, defendants and interested parties. There is always a view of the city from the building. The central hall with escalators unfolds along a courtyard garden and stacks of courtrooms into a flood of space and light.
The new courthouse is an expression of comfortable functional architecture. Court employees had their say on how the building could best serve their daily work of administering justice. The building is a well-thought out built-up with, above each other, everything that belongs together and separations of what should remain separate, such as the routes of judges, detainees and visitors. The environment for staff and visitors is inspiring, pleasant and safe.
Smart analysis tools and high-quality computational work
The Amsterdam District Court is a distinguished, accessible building, a building without a back. The central hall expresses its the architectural design: spacious, flooded with daylight, open, uncluttered, transparent and stylishly business-like. To achieve this design, the central hall was designed column-free and the façade columns were placed “outside” the building. The column-free space with voids and unobstructed sight lines not only creates spaciousness, but also increases the security of the courtroom. After all, there are no columns to hide behind. To achieve this functionality and spaciousness, the courtrooms had to be stacked in a complex way in the core of the building. This led to heavily loaded junctions in the structure, where we cleverly inserted collapsed, solid steel reinforcements. The rest of the building also conceals from view all the technology needed to operate the building. This was achieved through our intensive integral teamwork, combined with smart analysis tools and high-quality computational work.
On May 3, 2021, the first hearings in the new building took place. To mark the occasion, ABT published the booklet It takes partnership to build an icon. In the book, nine colleagues look back at their roles and experiences during the integrated design process and construction. Working within the consortium NACH. What do they regard their biggest challenges, the most exciting moments and what has the project meant and brought to them? Read their memories of this unique project here!
The Amsterdam District Court won several awards including BNA Best Building of the Year (2022) in the Identity and Iconic Value category and the International Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum | International Museum of Architecture and Design (2022).
Images: © Fernando-Guerra-FGSG