Merkx+Girod architects received the assignment to design the interior of the Hermitage Amsterdam museum in the stage of preliminary design by Hans van Heeswijk architects. The architectural design for the transformation of the existing building from elderly home into a museum was nearly complete and its spatial lay-out and routing determined. Van Heeswijk respects the original structure of the building and has placed two new main exhibition halls in a central and logical position, flanked by corridors and cabinets on both levels. A clear and consequent approach.
This clarity allowed Merkx+Girod to develop a strategy for the interior design in which the following principles are leading:
1: The monumental exterior skin of the building will be preserved and left untouched, both inside and outside.
2: The inside walls and floors will follow the buildings overall structure but will vary and become more individual as result of local programmatic desires and needs.
3: Special elements will be designed and placed autonomously within the building to bring local identity where required: the so called ‘golden eggs’.
From these principles a series of solutions has been designed according to local needs, while at the same time remaining a coherent part of the building.
Like the columns and ceilings who have been kept separate from structural beams and outside walls to heighten their monumental status. Like the interior walls, parallel to the outside walls, which have been thickened up to 80 centimeters in order to contain all technical installations which thus become invisible.
These walls also include shop vitrines, windows and openings making them spatially more interesting. Like the sequence of special moments in the building such as the main reception area, museum shops, restaurant, education centre and monumental Church Hall.
Where the interior is a functional part of the building structure it remains ‘quiet’ and part of the overall clarity and calmness. Where the interior needs to address specific functions and programmes a more free and different design has been used, separate from the building. In doing so the requested unity throughout the building remains while at the same time enough variation and excitement is built in.
At the river Amstel-side of the building the historical and monumental Church Hall, ‘Regenten room’ and ‘Regentesses room’ have been fully restored and are used for permanent exhibitions and formal receptions.
Hermitage for Children
The Hollandia Building, the former Hermitage Amsterdam location, houses the Hermitage for Children and has been fully re-designed. It contains five ateliers, several classrooms, a children’s-café and store. Here school children will work in groups, attend classes and lectures, listen to stories and music and watch movies.
‘At the Russian Court’ the openings exhibition
Merkx + Girod architects designed and co-curated the large openings exhibition ‘At the Russian Court’ for which both Main Halls and all museum cabinets are used to show the more than 2000 objects from the Hermitage St. Petersburg museum. The nature of these objects, their value and volume, the large variety in size and different media requested a smart and functional vitrine system which was designed in such manner that it can also be used for future exhibitions.
The two main focal points of the exhibition, the Russian Emperal Protocal and the Russian Emperal Ball, have been placed in the two main Halls. The formal aspects of the first and the more festive aspects of the second, have been made visible in the exhibition through the use of different materials, colour and spatial organisation. A unique experience is offered to the public, a true feast for the mind and eye!