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Europaplein 22

Amsterdam

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Amsterdam RAI

Client: Gemeente Amsterdam

Designers: Alexander Bodon

In 1961, the new RAI was opened, located on the south side of Amsterdam. Functionality is the pre-eminent feature of this exhibition and convention centre. The most spectacular part is the Europahal (Europe hall), whose enormous dimensions dominate all the other spaces.

In 1950, the municipality of Amsterdam did not renew the lease for the site of the old RAI on Ferdinand Bolstraat. The RAI was planning to move to a site at a favourable location on the south side of the city, close to several access roads and without parking problems.

In their search for an architect, the management of RAI turned to the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA). Besides Bodon, other candidates for the job were A. Boeken and the architect couple J.W.H.C. Pot and J.F. Pot-Keegstra. According to Bodon, who had never designed this type of building before, it was ultimately his extensive experience in designing exhibitions that helped him win the contract. The project team was expanded with J.W.H.C. Pot and J.F. Pot-Keegstra.

The design for the RAI was based on the idea that instead of being the focus of attention, an exhibition space should be a neutral environment. The aim of the new RAI building was to accommodate different types of activities, not just exhibitions and trade fairs but also circus shows and sporting events. A flexible layout is facilitated by spaces that all flow into each other as much as possible, and by providing the option to separate spaces by means of sliding walls, roller shutters and adjoining facilities such as wardrobes and lavatories.

The Europahal is the most spectacular space, dominating all the others through its enormous dimensions: spanning 67.5 metres, it is 195 metres long, 16.5 metres high and occupies over 20,000 square metres. The steel roof with parabolic trusses is supported by a structure of concrete needle beams, which are located outside of the exhibition space itself and are connected underground by means of tie rods. Sufficient daylight enters the building through the large skylights and the open end elevation, consisting of a glass membrane.

The other spaces are grouped around the Europahal: facing the city are the east hall and north hall, while the west hall and south hall face the access roads. The entire building is dedicated to functionality. Even the interior design of the bar restaurant by H. Salomonson is based on this philosophy.

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