Our modern ideas about the Netherlands tend to be of a benign well-run country that embraces everybody and rejects violence. It’s easy to forget that it was one of the major battlegrounds of Europe for much of history. Some remnants of Dutch defenses still exist, but they are slowly being incorporated into pacifist life.
Amsterdam is surrounded by a series batteries and flood zones that act as defenses for the city. Emma Architecten has rethought one of these defenses, Fort Diemerdam, as a space for much more genial pursuits. They built Pavilion Puur on the footprint of the site to act as an events center. Instead of making war, people can now come here to make love, or at least get married so can make love without their grannies disapproving. The plan of Pavilion Puur is an irregular heart shape with the walls curving in creating what looks like a fortress. Even visitors on the roof terrace look like sentry men from afar. Wooden shingles that line the façade come from a law that all buildings made in this defensive zone have to be made of wood. They seem to protect the building, keeping everyone inside out of harms way. The undulating façade lifts up at one side like a combat helmet, allowing access to a garden outside from within the venue. Slits have been cut into the façade framing idyllic views. The ground floor inside is set at 60 centimeters below grade, giving visitors a soldier’s eye view while having their dinner. Polished concrete floors, wood and steel come together inside to create a sleek interior with all the comforts you’d expect from a top class venue, certainly no military style roughing it here.
Pavilion Puur stays true to the heritage of the site without dysneyfying it. It has transformed a site of war to one of joy.