The RAI Exhibition and Congress Centre is to be extended with a new building, Elicium (from Elysium, meaning a delightful place). Its lower component, the Expo Foyer or 'Ballroom', hovers 5 metres above street level and is attached to the existing complex on both sides by aerial walkways. This creates a circuit or perimeter walk, transforming the old forecourt into an 'enclosed garden'. Shifted up half a storey alongside the Expo Foyer are five congress halls; these are spatially linked but can be used separately. The Ballroom is a single large column-free space that may be divided up using sliding partitions. A seven-storey stack rises above the congress halls. Elicium puts the RAI in a better position to attract large multi-day international events and gives it a bold new front.
On 29 September 2009, the Elicium – an expansion of one of Europe’s largest conference centres – was officially opened by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Orange. Arup was the structural engineer for the project. The Elicium is the contemporary face of the Amsterdam RAI complex. In order to retain its competitive position as an international conference and exhibition centre, RAI realised that it needed to expand. Designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects, the innovative Elicium building is a major addition to the city’s landscape. It was designed with the very latest environmental technologies, including climate façade and thermal storage 187m below ground. Nestled between the Holland and Europe Hall, and above the existing car park, the futuristic Elicium structure connects the various parts of Amsterdam RAI. It includes 2,500m² of exhibition space and 800m² of conference space. 5,800m² of office space has also been created in the seven-storey tower rising above. The exhibition space hovers 5m above street level, creating a large awning over the entrance below, which is supported by angled columns. It is attached to the existing complex on both sides by aerial walkways. This creates a circuit or perimeter walk, transforming the old forecourt into an enclosed garden. A second entrance is found on the west side of the building at ground floor level. The conference halls are located above this entrance, separated from the exhibition areas by elongated concrete cores. There are five congress halls that are spatially linked but can be used separately. The ballroom is a large column-free single space that may be divided up using sliding partitions.