The Netherlands is a country with a deep and vital connection to the sea, and the heart of country's maritime history can be found in the new Het Scheepvaartmuseum, housed in one of Amsterdam’s largest 17th century buildings. This Dutch naval storehouse building dating back to 1656 was renovated into modern prominence by Dok Architecten to become a maritime museum. This historic preservation project is now the site of one of the biggest collections of nautical art and artifacts that the world has ever seen.
Het Scheepvaartmuseum (which is only a 15 minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station) was modernized by Dok Architecten, who enhanced the clean geometry of the courtyard building’s plan and in the façade. All four rectilinear facades include a centralized ressault (a projecting section usually adorned with ornamentation at the top), which was reinterpreted in plan and emphasized by a large interior courtyard. Dok Architecten worked with consultants Rappange & Partners and Ney+Partners to create a glass roof structure to enclose the courtyard and extend the interior space of the museum. This courtyard now serves as a central reference point for all interaction with the building. Larger activities and meetings can now happen under the umbrella of glass at all times of the year.
The natural beauty of the original building, designed in 1656 by Daniel Stalpaert, was reinvigorated by removing all the surrounding jetties and returning the building to the sea. Even though the interiors received a much needed modernization, the restoration of the exterior and roof of the building remains the pinnacle of this work. As the architects put it, when the visitors “emerge from the ‘immersion of the museum visit’, the overwhelming beauty of the original building will unfurl itself to them once again”.