Het Nieuwe Instituut | Rotterdam

Design – completion: 1988–1993

Renovation: 2010-2011

Design: museum, archives

Art work: public arcade with lighting artwork by Peter Struycken

Location: Rotterdam (NL)

Client: Netherlands Architecture Institute

Team: Jo Coenen | Geert Coenen | M. van der Hulst


Compact urban ensemble


The commission for the Architecture Institute – after a competition that was limited to six firms – marked the start of Coenen’s international recognition. The institute is conceived as an ensemble of relatively autonomous architectural elements, which are above all important as a whole. They transform what used to be an amorphous gap in the city into a piece of compact, significant urban design.

The institute comprises four main components with different functions:

1. the banana-shaped concrete archive building as a new wall for the south side of Rochussenstraat;

2. a box-shaped, brick-covered exhibition hall as a pendant to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen opposite;

3. a transparent (glass and steel) block on a series of columns for the library and administration, overhung by an enormous steel canopy that turns it into a landmark; and

4. a socle (concrete in combination with glass and glass bricks) that accommodates a café and lecture room as well as placing the NAi on a pedestal. The moat and bridge over it make an essential contribution to the monumental quality of this complex.