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AD Classics: AD Classics: Amsterdam Orphanage / Aldo van Eyck

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by Igor Fracalossi

AD Classics: AD Classics: Amsterdam Orphanage / Aldo van Eyck

CCA Mellon Lectures

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AD Classics: AD Classics: Amsterdam Orphanage / Aldo van Eyck

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Dutch Architect Aldo van Eyck built the Amsterdam Orphanage in
1960. His design focused on a balance of forces to create both a
home and small city on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

Plan and Elevation

As a member of CIAM and then a founding member of Team 10,

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van Eyck held strong opinions on post-war architecture. The


Amsterdam Orphanage was van Eycks opportunity to put his
opinions in practice through his first large scale built project.

Diagram

Van Eyck criticized early post-war architecture as lacking a human


element. In the Amsterdam Orphanage he sought to design a
modern building with a new urban vision from those of his CIAM
predecessors.

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Sketch of Plan

CIAM, Congrs internationaux d'architecture moderne, was an


organization of architects founded between 1928 and 1959 to
promote and discuss the principles of modern architecture.

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CCA Mellon Lectures

Team 10 was formed as a reaction within CIAM around 1953. As


CIAM began to dissolve, van Eyck and a small group of young
architects formed their own organization. While they remained
autonomous as designers, the Team 10 architects met to share and
discuss their work, including van Eycks Amsterdam Orphanage

CCA Mellon Lectures

At the time of its completion, the Amsterdam Orphanage was


located on the outskirts of the city. It was commissioned as an
orphanage for children of all ages and includes sleeping quarters, a
kitchen, laundry room, gymnasium, library, and administrative
spaces. Van Eyck spoke of the Orphanage as a small urban study.

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Plan

He wrote a house must be like a small city if its to be a real house,


a city like a large house if its to be a real city in an essay published
in 1962 titled Steps Toward a Configurative Discipline.

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CCA Mellon Lectures

Therefore van Eycks designs for the Orphanage were those of both
a home for the children, as well as the plan of a small city. He
created a decentralized urban node with many points of interaction
within the plan. Van Eyck was interested in a nonhierarchical
development of cities and in the Amsterdam Orphanage he created
a building with many in-between conditions to break down the
hierarchy of spaces.

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The building is constructed out of two sizes of modules, a smaller


size for the residences, and a larger size for community spaces.

CCA Mellon Lectures

The modules consist of four round columns at the corners with a


domed roof of pre-cast concrete on top. The floor is also concrete.
The many facades in the building are either a glass wall or a solid
wall made with dark brown bricks.

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CCA Mellon Lectures

Within the Orphanage, units of program are laid out on an


orthogonal grid. The units project off two diagonal paths so that
each unit has multiple exterior facades. By projecting off of a
diagonal within the grid, van Eyck creates an equal amount of
negative spaces from the positives hes formed. Each individual unit
is then neighbored by its own outdoor space.

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CCA Mellon Lectures

A larger courtyard is offset diagonally from the residential spaces,


and the entrance and administrative spaces connect with the street,
the large courtyard, as well as the residential units. Van Eyck
avoids creating a central point within the Orphanage by allowing for
such fluid connections between all spaces.

CCA Mellon Lectures

The Amsterdam Orphanage is van Eycks vision of a balanced


community. His design earned him international recognition and
established his humanist theories in a built project.

Architects

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Location
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Architect
Aldo van Eyck

References
CCA Mellon Lectures

Project Year
1960

Photographs

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