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Khalifeyah Library


The Netherlands has been a hub of architectural innovation for the past hundred years, punching far above its weight - as it did during its Golden Age, three centuries ago. OMA, UNStudio, and Mecanoo win acclaim for work around the world, and SeARCH, the firm that Bjarne Mastenbroek established in 2002, is poised to join them. SeARCH is an acronym for Stedenbouw en Architectuur (Urban Planning & Architecture) but in English the word conveys the spirit of a team that is constantly looking for fresh, sustainable ways to design projects of every kind. They made their mark with the Liberal Synagogue in Amsterdam, a building that reconceives the traditional typology. Over the past few years, they’ve expanded their scope, geographically and expressively, receiving awards for an apartment complex in Denmark and a library in Bahrain, and winning commissions for buildings and master plans all over Europe and as far afield as Georgia. Six recently-completed projects demonstrate the versatility of SeARCH. Three are located near their office in Amsterdam. This city has been growing outwards in a succession of planned developments since the 1920s, most recently to the north where the former docklands have been systematically redeveloped. Islands recovered from the sea and named for the exotic destinations they once served are now lined with apartments, offices, and workshops in a complex linked by bridges and ferries. As in Hamburg’s Hafencity or Copenhagen’s Ørestad, a few outstanding buildings relieve the banality of this new community, and the four-star Hotel Jakarta is one of the standouts. It is sited on an edge of Java island, and its sharp prow evokes the clipper ships that sailed from here to the Dutch East Indies. On misty days, it emerges like a ghostly Flying Dutchman, an appropriate apparition for this location, but its chief appeal to guests is the views it commands over the city. It was conceived as a transparent shell enclosing 200...

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