Radical, total renovation of the Netherlands embassy in Rome, in close collaboration with the architects of cepezed. During the design process, the architecture and interior of the diplomatic post have been moulded into an indivisible, integral whole.
Because the two combined buildings originally functioned as a house, they had a poor logistical structure that impeded the practical execution of tasks and mutual communication between the embassy staff. In addition, because the premises did not have any exceptional interior details, the decision was taken to strip them down to the concrete skeleton and equip them with a new, drastically renovated setup oriented toward light, transparency, spatial experience and good mutual communication. As a consequence, any distinction between the two building sections can hardly be made.
To underpin a recognizable logistic structure, every storey was allocated the same layout. On all floors, the offices, work places and meeting rooms were grouped around a central traffic and repose area offering the opportunity of spontaneous encounters. These areas contain selfdesigned tables and pantry furniture. The interior walls between the offices and the central areas were implemented in flush glazing with integrated light switches. The walls have a translucent glass layer on the hall side and a transparent glass layer on the office side. In the workspaces they thus generate an experience of depth while the hall receives as much daylight as possible. The stairs also largely consist of translucent glass. The lift is wholly transparent. The lift and stairway zone is roofed over with a transparent roof that allows the incidence of daylight to ground floor level.
The interior of the renewed embassy contains much modern art of Dutch origin. Two ceramic dogs with the title Cave canem (‘beware of the dog’), created by the artists Irene Fortuyn and Robert O’Brien, guard the entrance to the building. For the layout of the embassy, there was close cooperation with interior designer Olav van den Brekel and art consultant Philippien Noordam of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Shortly after the realization, an embassy worker stated: ‘The intention – communication, meeting, openness – has already been proven successful.’