The Rivierstaete building dates from 1973. A Modernist colossus, it quickly became known locally as ‘the monkey house’, because of its piled-up, closed volumes. Designed by architect Hugh Maaskant, at the time it was Europe’s largest office building. Fast forward to 2013, the building was sold in a public sale. By now Rivierstaete was 60% empty and in a technically dated state. In the midst of the ongoing real-estate recession, it was a daring investment for the buyer. Aside from financial challenges, such a huge office building posed another risk, as it was uncertain whether office-space demand would pick up again – especially in the Rivierenbuurt, an atypical office location. Nevertheless the team’s anti-cyclical investment and long-term thinking saved the 1970s icon from demolition.
Demolition and a new construction would have been the easiest option. Because of the special character and great potential of the building, however, the team decided to opt for renovation. As winners of the pitch, MVSA Architects wanted to embrace the original design, retaining its positive elements and making the existing construction visible. MVSA proposed transforming the large, empty monolith – the huge, blocky white box – into a building that would fit seamlessly into its surroundings and establish a lively relationship with the neighbourhood.
To see more amazing entries from this year’s WAN Awards please click here.