“Connect and Differentiate” – Rode Hoed Renovation
Rode Hoed is broadly known as a cultural and societal debate center – a playground for thinkers and doers who shape our society. Rode Hoed creates a safe atmosphere that stimulates curiosity and allows raising all kinds of topics, no matter how controversial they are. Historically, this building has always been a safe harbor – from the early 17th century it served as a hiding church that offered Remonstrants freedom of thought and congregation. Since Remonstrants were not allowed to practice their faith in public, the church was buried in between four buildings with no access from the street.
Years have passed, and the venue acquired a different purpose, started pursuing a different mission. The building has been renovated dozens of times but it has preserved some of the original features that remind us of Rode Hoed’s vivid history. The biggest room, Oosterhuiszaal, still has the architecture of an old church. The red hat on the façade reminds us of 400 years ago when the building served as a hat factory.
Not that many people know that apart from Oosterhuiszaal, Rode Hoed also has 5 other rooms of different sizes and shapes, connected by stairs and corridors. They are rented out for presentations, business meetings, workshops, and brainstorm sessions. They are also used as breakout rooms during big business events that take place in Rode Hoed – conferences, conventions, dinners, summits, symposia, and others.
These rooms have been recently renovated by a design agency Lensvelt. We talked with Jeroen, Lensvelt’s project manager and Janpaul, the architect and owner of JPS.architecten, who are responsible for Rode Hoed renovation. Jeroen and Janpual walked with us through the building and told us all about the venue’s makeover.
Connect and differentiate
Up until recently, a lot of rooms in Rode Hoed were universal and didn’t have a specific function. This, on one hand, made them flexible since they could be transformed into anything; but on the other hand, it gave a sense of non-coherence: the rooms had no purpose, no personality. Jeroen and Janpaul came up with a concept “Connect and differentiate” which distinguishes rooms from one another and, at the same time, unites them under one theme.
Janpaul: These rooms are connected to each other because they all belong to Rode Hoed, the debate center. But at the same time, they are very different, with different stories and purposes.
The moment you enter Groenzaal, Amsterdam’s busy life stays behind, and you find yourself in a tropical forest, with fantastic animals roaming around, heavy trees covering the sky with their crowns, and sunlight finding its way through the thick foliage.
Jeroen: “In fact, the animals you see on the wallpaper are not fantasy creatures: they are all real but extinct. This wallpaper, as well as a lot of other elements in the building, refers to the past and reminds us of how important it is to preserve and honor history”.
The high-quality textile wallpaper is the result of a collaboration of a Dutch design brand Moooi and an Italian wallcovering company Arte. Officially, it will be released only in February 2019, which makes Rode Hoed the only interior in the world with such wallpaper.
Jeroen: “Back in the days, the wallpaper was made out of fabric and only the wealthiest houses could afford it. Using textile wallpapers in Rode Hoed rooms is another reference to the good old times”.
Groenzaal consists of two areas – a big boardroom with a large heavy table and lots of natural light, perfect for meetings and presentations. And a smaller room with a comfy couch, fireplace and a buffet – “a cigar room”, as Janpaul calls it.
Janpaul: The white ornaments you see around the room add a lot of class and style. It’s hard to believe that they were basically invisible before! Once we painted the walls green, they popped out and helped the room win back its unique personality. These ornaments, canal view, textile wallpaper, typical French theatrical light bulbs, old-fashioned buffet-desk – all this gives a feeling of a cozy living room where Agatha Cristie could have written her novels.
Once entering the room, you get carried away by the amount of natural light – seems like it’s coming out from everywhere. The pastel color of the walls, large windows, and beautiful molding elements make the room spacious yet very cozy. A frameless mirror placed between the windows connects the interior and exterior – seems like there is a door to the world behind the looking glass.
Amerpodia: What is the identity of this room?
Jan-Paul: It is Versailles! A modern interpretation of Versaiiles”.
Being one of the smallest rooms in Rode Hoed, Banningzaal required some extra attention and, most importantly, a purpose.
Jeroen: We call it a pantry room, and it’s perfect for small meetings or breakout sessions followed by bites and drinks. That’s why we placed this big pantry here with nice bottles inside: when you see liquor – you want liquor”.
Deep-blue walls and see-through curtains add individuality to the room and, at the same time, keep it generic, suitable for any type of event. The curtains are more than what they look like: once you step back, you can see a beautiful landscape with animals, rivers, and forests. The print is a replica of a Flemish tapestry called “Zwijnenjacht” that dates back to 1620.
Jeroen: Hanging a real rug on the wall in such a small room would be too extreme, too loud. A see-through curtain is a great alternative that allowed us to show a classy old art-piece without making it too large and too screamy.
This is the room where monumental, antique elements meet modern design. Vintage cabinets incorporated into the walls and monumental ancient arc next to the entrance are perfectly blended with the hi-tech appliances of a modern conference room. By embracing contrasting styles, Zwanenzaal acquired liveliness and texture that it lacked before.
Janpaul: This room used to be completely white: the antique elements were barely noticeable. We added some color to the walls and gave those cabinets and arc a new life, stressing how special and unique they are.
Amsterdamzaal consists of two areas: a big room overviewing Keizersgracht, perfect for business meetings and presentations, and a bar area, where you can relax after work. A big round table and comfortable chairs catch the eye: they are definitely the center of composition here.
Jeroen: It was important for us to preserve some of the old furniture, espessially if it had a lot of character. This table, for instance, looked sad and lonely, it lacked some love and attention. We managed to give the table a new look while keeping its very special personality. Although the chairs around it are new, they look old-fashioned and perfectly complete the ensemble.
Although the Cafe and Foyer areas haven’t been fully redesigned, they were still touched by the renovation. Beautiful chairs in Cafe are all of different shapes and shades of red. They were designed by Maarten Baas, a famous Dutch furniture designer. These chairs won the prestigious Milano Design Award in 2017. In fact, 95% of all the design elements, furniture, and decorations in Rode Hoed were created by Dutch designers.
Jeroen: There are so many great young talents in the Netherlands, and we think it’s important to support them.
“We Dressed Rode Hoed in a New Jacket”
Although it was just a makeover – nothing was broken or rebuilt – it changed Rode Hoed substantially. Everyone knows and admires Oosterhuiszaal, but the smaller rooms were just an addition to it – almost unnoticeable. Now they got injected with bold new personalities. They are not overshadowed by Oosterhuiszaal anymore – they complete it.
Jeroen: We gave back the identity to the rooms. We gave back the love that they lost, staying respectful to the venue’s rich history and cultural heritage. We dressed Rode Hoed in a new jacket.
Curious to know more about Rode Hoed renovation? Want to see the beautifully restyled rooms with your own eyes? Fill in our request form below or contact us directly via phone: +31 20 589 16 80
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