netherlands embassy, rome, italy

The Dutch embassy in Rome was housed in a richly decorated Renaissance-style townhouse built in 1929, flanked by an extension added a few decades later, which was vaguely similar but much more nondescript in terms of detailing. The buildings had undergone various renovations over the years, but were by this time pretty much run-down and in need of radical rehabilitation. Partly because Italy is a land of design and culture par excellence, the commissioning client had high ambitions. The project was interpreted as an excellent opportunity to show what the Netherlands can do in the area of architectural design. In addition, the aim was to achieve functionality, professionalism, transparency and a modern design. Because the neo-Renaissance building contained many original details, its appearance was restored to its former glory. With a modern CorTen steel shell round the extension, cepezed has introduced the greatest possible contrast between the older and newer building segments. The renovation does full justice to the main building now, against the abstract background of the steel. What’s more, the rusty metal fits in beautifully with the stone pines in the surroundings. Inside the buildings, there were no special details and the logistics were also untidy with poor orientation. So the building components were stripped back to the concrete skeleton internally and provided with a new, radically altered lay-out focused on light, transparency, spatial clarity and good communication between the members of staff. As a result, there is hardly any difference between the buildings internally. On every floor, the offices, workplaces and meeting rooms are grouped round a central circulation and ‘linger’ zone, where staff can meet each other. After delivery, the head of cultural affairs proclaimed enthusiastically: ‘The building is a jewel and all my colleagues unanimously share this opinion. It is a delight to look at and a fabulous place to work.’

rome / italy

ministry of foreign affairs