BCAD — 1979–2009. Monograph for the Dutch architect office Benthem Crouwel. Published by nai010.
Whoever lives in the Netherlands, and especially in Amsterdam, would have to lead a fairly sheltered life in order not to know the name of Benthem Crouwel, or at least their buildings. Indeed, it is difficult to come into the country without passing through, passing under or entering a ‘Benthem Crouwel’.
When crossing the Dutch border by car, you cannot escape driving past their first contracted project: the transition buildings from 1979.
The Dutch borders
Since the disappearance of inner-European border controls these buildings have indeed been left neglected and maybe even dilapidated, they are however still awesome even as ruins. I once asked Jan, ‘Why are the transitions green?’ and had expected a story about meadows and the distant land. ‘Green is a colour that doesn’t look dirty so quickly. It stays fresh’. And in fact, even as ruins, they are pretty fresh looking. And how many offices can say about themselves that they have buildings in their portfolio which have been obtained through such a lovely occasion in history?
In the early projects, namely the border crossings and the house of Jan Benthem ‘Harmony’, the colour green plays an important role. Corroborated by the testimony of Jan Benthem ‘Green remains good longer’, we had the page edges coated in that colour.
Travelling by train to either Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Delft or Amsterdam would need to be avoided so as not to see their work. The main railway stations there are all from Benthem Crouwel. Arriving by plane you land at Schiphol which is the largest building project from this office. From Schiphol to Amsterdam by train? Train station Schiphol: Benthem Crouwel. Oh, you want to go by taxi? Well there’s two more along the A4: the faculty of dentistry and the exhibition centre, both Benthem Crouwel.
Ok! Then with the train. Amsterdam Central Station: Benthem Crouwel. Actually it’s a slightly older building from Cuypers in 1889. This giant however requires some renovation work and distinctive extensions. For example, there will soon be a tube station: Benthem Crouwel. With it you could visit the Anne Frank House: Benthem Crouwel. Or the photo museum: Benthem Crouwel. Or in the other photo museum, then to the Stedelijk Museum, and in the evening a concert in the Ziggo Dome. All Benthem Crouwel. And those who need a hotel can choose one of the many by Benthem Crouwel.
For the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the office, Studio Laucke Siebein won the contract to conceive and design a comprehensive monograph.
The chapter about Schiphol is printed on a yellow background in reference to the excellent signage system of the airport (by Benno Wissing, 1967).
Sunset Ruins by Johannes Schwartz. This photo strip of eleven double pages could be understood as a lovingly critical comment on architectural photography. The, over the years, decaying architectural models of this office, pose in front of hysterically staged sunsets.
More about this project:
Review BCAD, Grafik Issue 182