International Institute of Social History (IISG), Amsterdam

space and light

in a old warehouse

International Institute of Social History (IISG), Amsterdam

In the run-up to the first phase of the redevelopment programme for the Eastern Docklands in Amsterdam it transpired that the sturdy concrete warehouse built in 1961 was ideal for accommodating the archives, weighing many tonnes, of the International Institute for Social History (IISG). But to make the building attractive for staff, students and visitors, the hermetically sealed block needed literally prising open. Removing sections of floor and facade allowed both space and light to make their way deep inside the warehouse.
At the front of the building the facade has only small openings to show, so that the entrance at first exhibits a certain containment. On entering, however, and proceeding in the direction of the rear facade the void becomes steadily more generous. Off this void, which terminates at a gigantic window overlooking Entrepothaven, are amongst other things offices, the reading room, the restaurant and the congress hall. On the two uppermost storeys, where the storeroom is, the original warehouse has largely been kept the way it was.

As the ground floor of the warehouse was seven metres up, an intermediate floor could be inserted below it. The solution here was found in the building's sturdy construction: the extra level could simply be hung from the existing columns. The former loading bay facing the docks supports a cantilevered portion of the library on the first floor. These days it is knowledge, not goods, that is transferred here in the reading room.


Awards and nominations:

- Waarderingsprijs Gepleisterd Bouwen 1991
- Betonprijs 1989


Publications IISG

- 'Institut für Sozialgeschichte in Amsterdam', Baumeister, nr. 5 (1990), p50-52
- Internationales Institut für Sozialgeschichte in Amsterdam', Bouwelt, nr. 6 (1990)
- Ficher, A., Neue Architektur durch Umnutzung alter Gebaüde und Anlagen, Stuttgart, 1992, p138-141


  • Bastiaan Ingenhousz
  • Bastiaan Ingenhousz
    office at the water
  • Bastiaan Ingenhousz
  • Eva Strausz
    former situation