Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by
Benthem Crouwel Architects


Benthem Crouwel Architects have completed the new extension to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, which looks rather like the underside of a kitchen sink (+ slideshow).

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

Designed by A. W. Weissman in 1895 the museum's original red brick building has been renovated and enlarged with a curvy white extension, part of which is underground.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

The entrance is situated in a transparent facade facing onto the open grassy expanse of Museumplein.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

The upper edges of the white extension extend outwards to shelter the plaza.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

Above image is by Ernst van Deursen

The museum's shop and restaurant are located next to the entrance, while a large exhibition hall, library and 'knowledge centre' all lie below ground.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

Above image is by KLM Carto

Two escalators in an enclosed tube connect the exhibition spaces on the lower and upper levels, allowing visitors to bypass the entrance area.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

We recently featured another large white extension to a red brick building – a museum in a former brewery in Zurich.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

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Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

Photographs are by John Lewis Marshall except where otherwise stated.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

Here's some more information from the architects:

Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum is renovated and enlarged. Designed by A.W. Weissman, the building is celebrated for its majestic staircase, grand rooms and natural lighting. These strong points have been retained in the design along with the colour white introduced throughout the museum by former director Willem Sandberg. The existing building is left almost entirely intact and in full view by lifting part of the new volume into space and sinking the rest underground.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

Its entrance has been moved to the open expanse of Museumplein where it occupies a spacious transparent extension. The smooth white volume above the entrance, also known as ‘the Bathtub’, has a seamless construction of reinforced fibre and a roof jutting far into space. With this change in orientation and the jutting roof, the museum comes to lie alongside a roofed plaza that belongs as much to the building as to Museumplein. Against the backdrop of the old building, the white synthetic volume is the new powerful image of the Stedelijk Museum.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

Besides the entrance, a museum shop and the restaurant with terrace are situated in the transparent addition on ground level. Below the square are among others, a knowledge centre, a library and a large exhibition hall of 1100 m2. From this lowest level in the building it is possible to move to a new exhibition hall in the floating volume level. Via two escalators in an enclosed "tube", straight through the new entrance hall, the two exhibition areas are connected. This way the visitor crosses the entrance area without leaving the exhibition route and without being distracted by the public functions; visitors remain in the museum atmosphere.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Benthem Crouwel Architects

The detailing and color on the inside of the old and new buildings is in alignment, making the explicit contrast between the old building and the new building barely noticeable when walking through the museum. The Weissman building is reinstated in its former glory as it embarks on a new life, facing Museumplein, under one roof with the new addition.

Client: City of Amsterdam
Architect: Benthem Crouwel Architekten
Gross floor area: 12000 m²
Start design: 2004
Start construction: 2007
Completion: 2012

  • Davide

    Why could I put art into a bathtub? It doesn’t look good from any perspective… not from below or from above, it doesn’t find any dialogue with existing… a lapse of style for Museumplein.

    • tim

      I disagree that the design does not find any dialogue with the existing surroundings. The rooftop windows bear an obvious resemblance to the rooftop windows on the old building. The upper edges of the new building also mirror the height of the cornice along the old building. I do actually fancy the fact that Benthem Crouwel chose for an alternative to ‘save’ materials such as bricks or glass, although I have to say that the chosen material has a rather cheap feel to it in real life.

      That being said, this building obviously lacks a lot of qualities – daylight, to just mention one – that I find indispensable for a museum building…

  • Ilio

    A big sink!

  • rob

    An editorial board that is not capable to to initiate any worthwhile profound debate on architectural issues, just showing renders without any comment, found it necessary to say that this item looks like the back of a bathtub.

    • beatrice

      Perception of a visitor maybe?

  • Kelvin

    Anyone knows what’s the material of this very smooth facade?

    • blimp

      “The smooth white volume above the entrance, also known as ‘the Bathtub’ has a seamless construction of reinforced fibre.”

    • Daan

      Composites, done by the company Holland Composites.

    • cethuesen

      It’s a synthetic fiber panel construction – same kind of material used for yachts/boats, coated with airplane paint… $$$

    • ipm

      It’s a composite material. More information on the manufacturer’s website:

  • Chris

    Kinda looks like a stage set from a 70s Kubrick film. I dig it, just funny to see the influence from 40 years past.

  • pampurce

    Dutch are probably the only people in the world that would build a giant bathtub (sink) -like museum and think that it’s good…

    • marco

      Thinking a built bathtub would not be mocked is understanding very little of Dutch architectural tradition.

  • blimp

    Should've gone with Siza's design. Unfortunate.

  • Donkey

    Why? WHY!?

  • Andy Hope

    Bad joke. This is not architecture anymore.

  • What a waste of a great opportunity.

  • 3DD

    I like that they are not afraid to build something modern next to the old building. This would be very difficult in the UK. The design itself is not very successful, looks like the giant sink or bathtub.

    • Craves

      Really?… A recent UK example with a similar brief, but with a far better outcome. The new has been woven around the old, still retaining its own identity whilst successfully paying deference to the original… unlike the Dutch example.

  • dude

    This is a sad outcome for what could have been a beautiful project. There is literally nothing likeable about this building. It is neither elegant nor very avant-garde. It’s just weird and ugly.

  • Fred

    Virgin Airlines' newest spaceship?

  • zizi

    This is why people hate architects.

  • I can’t say that I am impressed by how they combined the new with the old style. I would have liked more to see the new building in full a full harmony with the old building which is very beautiful. Sometimes the decision to build is in the hands of disinterested people or people who don’t have the aesthetic sense well developed :(

  • Marcus Des

    I appreciate the irony: this building symbolizes loads of money gone down the drain.

  • Wouter

    I wonder just how many of the reviewers have actually seen the building in reality. I think it’s rather strange to be so outspoken without actually knowing what you are criticizing… As a frequent passenger I appreciate the building and its presence. The building that ought to be torn down is next to it, the stupid extension of the van Gogh museum which destroyed the museum square!

  • Ricardo

    Can anyone in Holland please sue these “architects”? The rest of the world will thank you deeply.

  • designer in exile

    I think the architects thought it would be cool If their building would receive a nick name, a very popular thing in Holland, so they did their best to help the public. Obviously the guys have been a little too eager. Architects please, if you want to do design, do a chair, leave design thinking to designers or you will end up borrowing formal languages you obviously don’t understand.