The EMA is the European Medicines Agency, and in May 2017, their gigantic office, previously based in London, had to find a new headquarters in Europe because of the UK’s departure from the EU. So this time, the project to design the new office did not begin with an architect’s pitch, but a pitch from European countries. The EU member states – in whose hands lay the decision – opted for the Netherlands, and specifically for a completely new building in Zuidas.
An exciting project
‘It was a really exciting project’, says Van Dijk. ‘When we learned about the relocation of the EMA, we immediately started to sketch out a design. Of course, you have to be able to show them something to make your pitch. An existing building would also have been an option, but would have made it more difficult to meet all the requirements. For example, the building had to be easily accessible, have enough space for large conference rooms, and there had to be housing and facilities for (international) employees within a reasonable distance. There also needed to be enough hotel capacity in the area. So, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the City of Amsterdam, we got started. We made a joint decision in favour of this plot, and a new building in Zuidas, so that we would be able to satisfy all the requirements. And – another important requirement – we had to incorporate the 18-month delivery time into our design, so that the EMA would be able to move in and start operating quickly.’