Building upon architecture
Every architectural design carries the seed of a new world. But architecture is never a completely new beginning. All architecture builds on what already is. Building is always the transformation of a world that is already there. Architecture reforms. The aim of any architectural intervention is to improve what is already there, to supplement what is lacking, to repair what is not working. To meet unfulfilled wishes, to give shape to desires and needs. By changing, renewing, reorganizing. Not by starting all over again.
Building upon, and onward can be done in countless ways. At Serge Schoemaker Architects, it starts with the recognition that reform requires open-mindedness and accuracy. Open-mindedness to recognize the valuable qualities and possibilities of what is; accuracy to make what is being reformed part of a greater whole. All this requires not only architectural expertise and craftsmanship, but also a highly developed aesthetic intelligence. A keen eye, a sense of beauty, and a precise hand.
Just as the architecture of Serge Schoemaker Architects manages to give the past a place in the present (and vice versa), the work also has a spatial continuity. Transitions from interior to building and from building to environment are designed with the same attention and sense of detail. This gives furniture and interiors an architectural character; buildings the sophistication of a piece of furniture.
Architecture and building
Architecture and construction are closely related to Serge Schoemaker Architects. Just as a graphic designer cannot suffice with indicating how text and illustrations are put on a page, but also needs to know how a book is printed and bound, an architect must know the possibilities (and impossibilities) of building. A thorough knowledge of building forms the self-evident basis for the architectural designs of Serge Schoemaker Architects. Making a design is directly connected with making a building.
For Serge Schoemaker Architects there is an overlap between the customization of the design and the manufacturing of the execution. The realization is directly in line with the design. The ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of making are intimately intertwined. The optimal outcome is achieved through the involvement of designers in the entire process, from initial idea to delivery, and close collaboration with all parties involved, from clients to builders.
The agency bears the founder’s name. Serge Schoemaker’s design attitude is directional and determines the signature of the office, which is radically understated. Yet, it is the addition ‘Architects’, in plural, that indicates that his approach and ideas are shared by the whole team. The office creates architecture that is supported by a personal approach, leading to buildings full of character: tangible, atmospheric, elegant.
May 21, 2023
The former Coopery Museum in Amsterdam is an extension to the Mill of Sloten, a polder mill and provincial monument. Economic conditions forced the museum to close its doors in 2020. It turned out to be the perfect building to house the Democratic School Amsterdam, which was looking for new accommodation. The school invited Serge Schoemaker Architects to design the crowdfunded museum conversion, which has been completely executed by volunteers.
April 13, 2023
In close collaboration with artist Siba Sahabi, we developed a proposal for a permanent light installation in the canal of Fort Hoofddorp. The sculptural art work will be placed on the pillars of the former bridge. The design highlights the historical connection with the fort island and visualises the site’s dynamic relation with the past and present. Commissioned by the municipality of the Haarlemmermeer and supported by the Province of North Holland. To be completed 2023.
March 5, 2023
Serge Schoemaker Architects takes great pleasure in giving spaces an architectural character. In the process of renovating this detached house, the spaciousness of the floor plan and the tactility of the materials also became central to design. With a number of small incisive changes, the new design reveals and emphasises the hidden qualities of the house. This restraint in the use of materials has led to a simple yet elegant interior.
February 15, 2023
This month, we start with the challenging renovation and conversion of a designated state monument in Utrecht, designed by Dutch architect Houtzagers. Built in 1898, the 400m2 large town house full of authentic details is part of his representative housing block at Emmalaan. Serge Schoemaker Architects will modernize the five-floor building and make it more sustainable. Construction starts in spring. To be completed 2024.
January 5, 2023
September 16, 2022
Serge Schoemaker Architects completed the Preliminary Design for the envisioned transformation of Fort Kudelstaart. The designated state monument will be transformed into a high-quality nautical centre including a hotel, spa, restaurant, meeting spaces and cafe. To safeguard the cultural-historical values, the extension to the fort is completely integrated into the embankments and covered in earth.
August 1, 2022
Balancing on the edge of a steep valley in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, this house is composed of a light geometric concrete structure resting on the solid volumes of the grond floor that emerge from the hillside. The building provides space for a couple whose children have left the house, along with guest accommodation for their large extended family to gather. The two levels provide very different living conditions; enclosed and protected below and expansive and airy above.
July 27, 2022
The online architecture platform Architizer featured our Amsterdam Canal House renovation with an interview article, this week. At the request of the owners, the designated state monument has been modernized and made more sustainable. In the interview, Serge Schoemaker talks about the initial concept of the renovation project, the challenges of working with a monument as well as our way of working. Perfect read for the summer break!
April 24, 2022
On the 22nd of April, architect Serge Schoemaker and theater producer Femme Hammer, the initiators and driving force behind the renovation and reuse of Fort Hoofddorp, were awarded the Pieter van Vollenhoven Prize. The ceremony took place in Fort Hoofddorp and was personally presented by the former chairman of the National Restoration Fund, Pieter van Vollenhoven: “Thanks to these people and to the many people involved who have a passion fo heritage, the monuments of our Kingdom can be preserved.”
March 9, 2022
In the Dutch town of Lijnden, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, we are realising a free standing single family house. Consisting of two interconnected volumes with pitched roofs, the proposed brick house presents a distinct, contemporary character while also searching for continuity with the surrounding residences. While the external form adapts to the scale and architectural language of the context, the overlapping volumes create a surprisingly spacious interior.
February 10, 2022
Fort Hoofddorp is the winner of the 2021 NRP Golden Phoenix Award in the category Transformation! We are really honoured by this recognition. The annual prize was awarded today in The Hague by Government National Architect Francesco Veenstra: “Fascinating slow architecture at its best. The jury members showed great appreciation for this private initiative which revived this ‘hidden treasure’.”
October 30, 2021
Our first book publication, featuring essays from Kirsten Hannema, Hans Ibelings and Jolanthe Kugler, is out! Published by The Architecture Observer and designed by HallerBrun, the book ‘Strategic Interventions’ documents our careful transformation of the nineteenth-century Fort Hoofddorp. The interventions are captured in the photos of MWA Hart Nibbrig. Available for purchase in both Dutch and English.
September 16, 2021
Serge Schoemaker’s transformation of Fort Hoofddorp received an Honourable Mention in the ‘BNA Best Building of the Year’ competition. This annual prize celebrates the best architecture in the Netherlands. The 2021 winners were announced today by the jury of the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA) during a festive ceremony at Het HEM in Amsterdam.
July 20, 2021
Situated in the heart of the city, this seventeenth-century corner house offers views of two Amsterdam canals. At the request of the owners, the designated state monument has been modernized and made more sustainable. Serge Schoemaker Architects transformed the five-floor home into a new visual composition that enhances the historical qualities of this remarkable building to the full.
May 26, 2021
For over 30 years ‘Architecture in the Netherlands’ has provided an indispensable overview of Dutch architecture for everyone with a professional or more general interest in the subject. The Yearbook is the international showcase for Dutch architecture. Published by nai010 publishers, the 2020-2021 edition features one of our recent projects: the transformation of Fort Hoofddorp.
February 28, 2021
Since the 1990s the former warehouses along the Entrepothaven in Amsterdam have been repurposed for living space. We converted an existing maisonette inside ‘Dinsdag’, a nineteenth-century warehouse, into a comfortable and stylish urban apartment. The result is an oasis of calm in a vibrant residential neighbourhood. A consistently applied palette of colours and materials unites the two floors into a single architectonic composition.
September 30, 2020
Fort Hoofddorp has been nominated for the Dutch ‘Interior of the Year 2020’ award by the jury of Architectenweb. The award nomination is a beautiful recognition for all who worked on this transformation project. Jury statement: “The process from the first design up to completion took a decade and did not always go smoothly; the jury has great respect for the tenacity of the architect.”
September 15, 2020
Fort Hoofddorp has been nominated for the ARC20 Architecture Award. The fort has been partly restored and partly left untouched. We designed sleek new additions and integrated them carefully, consciously preserving the historical details and distinctive atmosphere. Our approach sets up a lively dialogue between past and present, with both entities enhancing each other.
May 31, 2020
The process of redeveloping and converting Fort Hoofddorp (1904) took a decade. Some 8,100 m2 in size, the world heritage site has been transformed into an urban park with space for a restaurant as well as cultural and educational activities. Serge Schoemaker Architects tackled the landscape, architecture and interior in an integral manner, fusing past and present into a new entity.
November 30, 2019
Alley of Light by Serge Schoemaker Architects & DigiLuce opened at the renown Lugano Arte e Cultura (LAC), today. The LAC art center is one of Switzerland’s most important cultural institutions, dedicated to the visual arts, music and the performing arts. LAC showcases Alley of Light on its front square, Piazza Bernardino Luini, from December 2, 2019 to January 6, 2020.
April 30, 2019
This series of landscape objects in the province of Antwerp is designed to enhance the quality of the walking area around the ‘Grote Gracht’, to the east of the Belgian municipality of Retie. Serge Schoemaker Architects interpreted the rich local agricultural history with a poetic, minimalist design which is at the same time functional in character.