CODA ApeldoornEnglish Hertzberger's building
Entrance CODA Museum in Apeldoorn.


The architect speaking

“People should feel that in CODA they share something”                                                                                                Herman Hertzberger

Herman Hertzberger in the CODA-building he designed.

In 1940 young Herman Hertzberger goes for a bike ride with his father. He remembers the idyllic town of Apeldoorn with its beautiful old trees and a splendid tavern, poetically called Bloemink. At that time he did not know what Apeldoorn was to bring him later. For by now he has three buildings to his credit (Centraal Beheer along the Prins Willem Alexanderlaan, the renovation and construction of the Orpheus theatre and the construction of CODA), as a result of which the town has acquired a special meaning for him.

Apeldoorn used to be an idyllic spot with detached houses with a lot of greenery and gardens; now,  in marked contrast to this, the town is developing an urban centre with no structures extending beyond the building lines, which means neither gardens nor greenery. Within the framework of this development the town council held a contest for the design of a new building that was to house a museum, an archive and part of a library. The winning design was Hertzberger’s.

Aerial view of the 'Cultuurkwartier'

There was one condition: the building of the Huis voor de Schoone Kunsten (housing Markant and Gigant) had to remain detached. Therefore, Hertzberger placed a u-shaped building around it along the building lines of the lot available. The design shows an interaction with the staircase of the Huis van Schoone Kunsten, while Hertzberger also alludes to the lines created by the direction of the staircase. In this manner CODA did not become a massive block, but a playful structure. The logo of the organization derives from the shape of the building – one that you can look straight through and thus communicates with the surrounding buildings in the Cultuurkwartier.

CODA Museum, Roggestraat

With, among other things, the New York Guggenheim Museum as a source of inspiration, Hertzberger aimed for a museum that arouses curiosity, where people can look inside while walking past, a transparent building tempting people with art and history. He likes working with different levels so that people come into contact with each other and can see what others are doing. ‘People should feel that in CODA they share something’, he says. According to him, CODA has become a kind of aquarium – on the outside you can see what is going on inside: people at work, current exhibitions, people studying in the knowledge centre, sandwiches being prepared in the kitchen, the garbage that is being put out. The building is a bit exhibitionistic.

As the architect Hertzberger agreed to the demand that the depots had to be completely lightproof. In this way the closed black box containing the archives and the depot could contrast beautifully with the glass of the facades underneath. He deliberately did not align the patchwork of sheets of glass on the various floors vertically in order to avoid the suggestion of a supporting structure. The box is so strong that the floors underneath were attached to it by drawbars: in this manner an enormous space could be spanned and the building could be kept spacious and airy on the inside.

Interior CODA Museum
Click to enlarge
Interior CODA Museum

Hertzberger was inspired by an image from his childhood. He remembers seeing an Italian painting showing two worlds: the heavens above and the earth underneath. The image surfaced again when he was designing this building. From the street you can see the world of expositions in the exhibition area underneath the roof and simultaneously, above it, the world of children playing in the Children’s Atelier.

For an overview of the architect’s work: Architectuurstudio Herman Hertzberger Amsterdam

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