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Haussmannstraat 22

Amersfoort

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Russian Palace

One of the most remarkable designs in Blom’s oeuvre is the Russian palace he builds in the early 1990s in Amersfoort, if only because throughout his working life, Blom champions improving the relationship between buildings and the urban environment. He is not concerned with individual homes.

He makes an exception for young Russian concert pianist Yennah Prusha and her husband, probably because Blom has been unable to get any assignments for years. When his most famous project, the ‘Blaakse Bos’ housing complex, is completed in 1984, he has been out of work for a year. Besides, he tells the Parool newspaper in 1990, if they can, architects should never pass up an opportunity to tell a fairy-tale.

Yennah Prusha comes from Irkutsk in Siberia and is married to Herman de Waal, the director of Wilma, a construction company. De Waal has bought a plot of land in Zielhorst Park in Amersfoort. This park is the showcase project of Fons Asselbergs, the town’s councillor for Spatial Planning and Culture. The area is to become a display card for contemporary Dutch architecture.

De Waal wants a Russian palace for his wife that features the typical characteristics of the buildings from her homeland, such as wooden churches with their typical onion domes. Not flashy, but with a plain appearance. Blom: “It can cost as much as necessary, so I’m using the most expensive wood you can find. But to give it that poor Irkutsk feel, I’ll stain it with a normal green and paint the panels as if they were Chinese folding screens.”

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