Fort Diemerdam is part of the “Stelling of Amsterdam’. This historical defence line was recently put on the UNESCO world heritage list. This ignited a re-development plan for Fort Diemerdam to make it accessible to visitors, tourists and those interested. The existing bunkers and fortress guardian house have been restored. The original plan of slopes and strongholds is restored and a nature conservation program has started. Emma architects has designed a new pavilion in which and from which puur produkties revives the fortress again with events, tours and catering.
Now, how to create something new in a place where it is fixed that the old is protected? Emma started looking for ways to simultaneously imagine the future and the past. To convey both an air of positive futurism, as well as a strong sense of the past. They found leads in the history of the fort and in the special landscape that surrounds her.
In and around the fort site the kringenwet (‘law of circles’) applied. This required that all buildings within the firing range of the guns must be constructed out of wood. When the enemy would approach, all buildings were shot so they could no longer hide. A plinth of just 60 centimetres was allowed to be built from stone, All wooden houses would not last long in this wetland area. Emma brought the footprint of a former soldiers shelter, which emerged in an archaeological research, into the design. At the exact spot, the historical plan is pushed 60 cm into the ground, instead of above it. Visitors will sit slightly lowered, sheltered in the fortress grounds. A wooden wall curves up around this base plan to protect the site and encompass the required spatial program.
The wooden wall is draped along the features of the surrounding landscape. The Dutch engineers work of embankments, bastions and ramparts is characterized by the military precision of elevations, slopes and curves which could strategically hide troops and artillery from view. The wooden facade leans forward and backward, bends around the program and nestles the building deep in the stronghold. It plays with the landscape. The openings in the wall and the terrace on the first floor offer visitors a focused view of the earthworks, the bunkers, the sky and let your gaze to the horizon. The differentiation of heights and openings creates a dynamic play looking and being looked at, of gradual and continuous disclosure.
Underneath the pavilion a large basement is built inside the major earthwork. This allowed the rear entrance to be realized outside the pavilion, towards the road. Thus the pavilion addresses the landscape on all sides. The technical installations are also integrated in the earthwork. The pavilion has been equipped with air heat pumps and the sewage discharges on a helophyte filter. The wooden facade is lined with 40,000 WRC natural shingles. Due to the variable differences in orientation, the facade will naturally change colour as differently. Depending its inclination towards the sky or the earth, orientation on south or north, on prevailing wind direction or close to the trees; in time, the surrounding nature and the elements will define the appearance of the building.