Prijsvraaginzending (NAI-YMERE competition 2009)

Literally "branding" Amsterdam and New Amsterdam, the starting point for our Open Fort 400 project are the three crosses in the Amsterdam Arms. Placed at either end of a straight line connecting the two cities, they are symbolic anchor points of the 400 year old umbilical cord. They form an tribute to the positive spirit of Dutch international history which is often absent in daily life.

Turning around the concept of a built work becoming an icon, we chose to make the icon a built work. In our project, the three monumental crosses are extruded to form buildings which can best be perceived on Google earth, the everyday means of global travelling. The 26 degree angle created by cutting through the globe defines the slope of the building, creating a dynamic spatial relationship between the city and the building, between the building and the user. The Amsterdam slope unambiguously marks the direction in which New York lies. The Amsterdam site has its counterpart in the New York harbor, linking the two cities once more by reclaiming a few acres of land. In the East River the small polders carved out of the river reference the size of the Manhattan grid system that originated in the Dutch Beemster.

The only programming we concern ourselves with is urban. The iconic gesture of the building and its social relationship to the surrounding makes the internal program less relevant - like the cathedrals or even the Shell Tower which are never per se entered, yet are the face of a city. In the case of New York, the polders themselves like the Statue of Liberty, are a memento of its diverse multicultural foundations.

The Amsterdam motto," Heldhaftig, Vasberaden en Barmhartig"  or "Valiant, Steadfast and Compassionate" generates the urban ambitions of the project. As an urban icon, the building refers to a larger scale – the place of Amsterdam in the world arena. The façade, which is built like the tiers of a theater, in combination with a waterside platform provide a generous urban park in an ever increasingly cramped cityscape.

Within the development of Buiksloterham, where living and working are once again intertwined, the building creates a much needed inviting public space. Along with the NDSM terrain, the film museum and the Shell tower it punctuates and anchors the waterside cycling and pedestrian path. The park is also not programmed, and is suited both to larger events and individual leisure, families and lovers. The slope of the building creates an inviting entrance to a sheltered space on the other side.

First and foremost, this fort is about refreshing our dedication to Valiance, Steadfastness and Compassion. In contemporary society, a fort should be a place to preserve our values.

Jury report:
This entry stands out from the others because it is concerned with large-scale art in the public domain rather than a building with a programmatic content. Three towers with a cross-shaped ground plan join to form the symbol of the city of Amsterdam, which will be clearly visible from the air. All three towers are built at a sharp angle, resulting in three immense urban grandstands on the bank of the IJ which afford a view of the skyline of the inner city of Amsterdam and the open view of the river towards the west. As a gesture towards the city of New York, the entrant proposes projecting the three Amsterdam crosses in the Hudson River. Although the entry is not in conformity with the assignment in terms of either program or space, the jury appreciates the originality of the plan.