architecture review

Neutelings And Riedijk Join The World’s Architectural Elite

Heike Söns

This duo of Dutch architects breaks the mold with bold, ultramodern, practical and innovative designs. Well-known in Europe, their work begins to be recognized around the world.

The architectural vocabulary of Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk usually delivers very peculiar buildings. Colossal and sculptural, their designs have reached cult status around the world. Bold in style and introducing a rational approach to the use of space, these buildings are distinguished not only for their architectural composition, but also for their functionality.

With architectural landmarks to their name, such as The Sphinxes of Lake Huizen (2003), a set of five apartment buildings east of Amsterdam, or the zigzag structure of the School of Navigation and Transport of Rotterdam (2005), both in the Netherlands, Neutelings and Riedijk design each building in a style that definitely breaks traditional patterns with a refreshing and playful nuances. Though better known in Europe, this duo of architects is quickly scaling the ladder of international fame. Their designs are inevitably compared to works by legendary architects like Rem Koolhaas and Gordon Bunshaft.

Neutelings and Riedijk
Hilversum Institute of Image and Sound.

A preeminent example of their ability is the Hilversum Institute of Image and Sound in the Netherlands, considered the masterpiece from the firm Neutelings Riedijk Architects. The building is usually compared with the iconic Library of Yale University in Connecticut, USA, designed by Gordon Bunshaft, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Completed in 2006, the Hilversum building was conceived as a perfect square. The structure, in itself, is striking, but its impressive facade is what makes it stand out above the rest.

Designed in collaboration with the artist Jaaap Drupsteen, the exterior of the Hilversum Institute consists of 2,100 glass panels that display— as in a giant TV screen—the most representative images of the history of Dutch television. Drupsteen materialized these images with the help of computer technology that makes them identifiable only from certain angles: from a short distance they seem to come alive. The result is captivating, and it is certainly an invitation to reflect on the way society processes the rapid flow of information that exists today.

Built in an isolated plot and flanked by a small garden, the modern building boasts five underground floors and five levels on the surface. The structure houses a vast collection of Dutch audiovisual archives, a museum dedicated to the exhibition of the most outstanding multimedia in the country, offices, a cafeteria and other facilities. Inside, the spaces are strictly separated like different worlds, accessed via an internal bridge that crosses over an underground atrium.

Neutelings and Riedijk
Rozet Centre for Culture and Education.

Currently, Neutelings Riedijk Architects is one of the most active and sought-after architectural firms in Europe. Founded in Rotterdam in 1992, their work has been exhibited at the Venice, Rotterdam, São Paulo and Beijing Biennials.

Just in December 2013, two of their most recent works were inaugurated in the Netherlands: the Rozet Centre for Culture and Education in the city of Arnhem and the Eemhuis Cultural Center in Amersfoort. From fantastic casinos in Las Vegas to luxury stores in Moscow and public libraries in Prague, each new project by Neutelings and Riedijk, promises to be a new architectural landmark.

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