Televisions, by Neutelings Riedijk

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Image and Sound (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The road to the Mediapark in the city of Hilversum, in the Netherlands, is a twisted one today. Orange signs reroute me around road works. Through the detours all orientation is lost. I turn the car over a roundabout and – wow – there it is. It’s bigger, chunkier, than I imagined. Its site is a prominent one, just before the entrance of the Mediapark, where most of the television studios in the Netherlands are located.

TV Screens Wall (Photographer: Athewma/Flickr)
TV Screens Wall (Photographer: Athewma/Flickr)

I park the car in the underground multilevel parking garage next the building. I exit the parking and find myself standing on a plateau of sand in the back of the building. Probably a park has been planned here, but there is nothing here yet. Because the entrance of the building is on the other side I walk around. The form of the building is a simple one: a box. The juice is the façade. The colored glass panels are distorted stills of Dutch television. The iconography is that of the wall of television screens. A second (unmeant?) reference is that of the distorted television screen, caused by a bad signal. It’s a reference to the program of the building: Institute for Sound and Vision. A composition by graphic designer Jaap Drupsteen, I learn later. The small glass panels camouflage the stories behind, making it scaleless.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Although the architects Willem-Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk despise Modernist of Classical columns, the W-shaped construction at the entrance feels like a classical portico. The natural stone finish of the ‘basement’ underlines this experience. The entrance reminds me of the design for the Trés Grande Bibliothèque that OMA made in 1989 (for a competition that Dominique Perrault won).

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The door turns, and I turn left. The interior is not overwhelming. It unfolds as you walk. It is beautiful. A vide that cuts through the entire building, vertically and horizontally. Upwards one can look six stories up, and through the roof to the sky. Horizontally the perimeter of the building is mostly open in view, framing a view to… well, what is about to be that park. Downwards the view goes down five stories, into the underground archives that archives all media produced in the Netherlands. A glass wall cuts through the height of the building and mirrors its form. The glare permits only a glimpse of the office slab behind.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The composition of the interior – formalistic vides that cut through a cube, an office slab to one side – remind again to the design of the Trés Grande Bibliothèque, although I realize that it is a formula that other ex-OMA firms such as MVRDV also generously practice. It is thrill to realize it works outside a book like S,M,L,XL and that this is the best example ever build.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The ground flour is almost completely accessible by the visitors of the institute. Walk freely around, hang your coat in the wardrobe, have a coffee at the bar, or on the stepped terraces, shop for things nobody needs, or buy an entrance ticket to the world that hovers above your head. It sets a new standard in interior public space. This is freedom.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The ziggurat motif of the vide reminds subtle to the temples of ancient civilizations in Egypt and Southern America. The building is however always contemporary, never traditional.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The red glow the archives have something mysterious. Something like ‘a hell’, a friend of me suggests. Who said again that every building has a heaven and a hell? The heaven here is the orange-furnished restaurant overlooking the unfinished pond to the south. The custom designed furniture is amazing and is partly ‘thrown’ over the low natural stone walls. 

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The theater-like restaurant is a feature that is also apparent in the Shipping and Transport College the architects finished a year ago.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Up the generous stairs there is first a level with blue-lit movie-theaters. There are no chairs, only benches, making it a collective experience one can’t escape. The walls of the theaters are clad with metal X’es holding a translucent blue rubber-like membrane that is lit from behind. Everything becomes blue.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

More blueness is found on the next level, that houses a three-story, well, education-entertainment-experience kind of thing. The entrance is 11 euro, making it not a cheap theme park. And I am afraid the taxpayers (I am not one of them yet) have paid for this bullshit. As all theme parks this ‘edutainment’ is meant for kids. It is highly sophisticated with a personal electronic device that tracks and records what you do in there. You can record your own news, make your appearance on a set, edit a game show, see old television footage, and participate in different game shows, etcetera. A three story playground.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The architecture of the building has retreated in this hall to a neutral blue background. The set-up with a big vide in the middle and balconies on both sides works great, as one is able to oversee everything. The backdrop is that all ‘installations’ or games are film-related, and therefore have sound. It all adds up to a lot of noise. Worse than a swimming pool.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Visiting this ‘television’-building at daytime has something paradoxical about it. A television is a lamp, and in analogy to that the building is lit at night, making it a great example of luminous architecture, architecture of the night. But at daytime, when most of the people visit the institute, the panels aren’t lit. The building shines for the people who work in the studios at night, providing the content for the underground archives.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

On close look the glass panels are amazingly beautiful. From a little distance however, the relief is too subtle to be really seen. Compared to the University Library in Jussieu, France, by Herzog & de Meuron that feature images ‘printed’ on concrete, the relief here is pretty much totally absent. The relief becomes a waste of effort.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Making my way back to the parking garage I walk by another backside of the building. Here the glass panels slide aside to reveal the office slab behind it.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Image (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

This façade overlooks an MVRDV: the villa VPRO. Trying to make a detour around that building, security runs outside to ask me if I would please return behind the gate. Maybe public television, not public property.

MVRDV - Villa VPRO, Hilversum (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
MVRDV - Villa VPRO (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

This new building by Neutelings Riedijk sets a new standard for public buildings. I can’t wait for the next one. And if only more commissioners like this one existed.

The project is added to the Representation and Architects pages.

 

P.S. The first design of the Institute had a slightly different iconography, with a framing and differentiation of the individual ’screenshots’. In the realized design the facade is more of a blur, and has thereby become more abstract.

Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision, Hilversum
Neutelings Riedijk - Institute for Sound and Vision (Copyright Neutelings Riedijk) 


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