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Royal Academy of Visual Arts

The competition for a new Royal Academy of Visual Arts was intended to bring to an end the inadequate housing of the art school in Amsterdam city centre. In 1917, the dynamic municipal council reserved a location for the new building in an urban development district in Amsterdam: Plan South. Monumentally situated at the end of a central axis, it formed one of the primary elements in the plan.

The competition programme stipulated that the building itself needed to be a work of art. After all, such a building would exert a supposedly strong educational influence on budding painters, sculptors, engravers and architects. The jury, however, warned against using too many 'decorative elements’.

The design by Bijvoet and Duiker was, like four other entries that were awarded a prize, a rectangular building with two inner courtyards. The main entrance was located on the central axis. Duiker and Bijvoet won because, according to the jury, they had made the most efficient use of space.

The jury, however, was less enthusiastic about the decorative programme. In the explanation that accompanied the design, Bijvoet and Duiker had proposed not using figurative visual art in favour of geometrics. What these decorative elements were intended to look like remains unclear. The sober perspective drawing of the frontal façade with the main entrance was not detailed enough to highlight this. The prize-winning design was never realised however, because the government pulled out of the project.


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