Now that most of the scaffolding inside the new courthouse has been removed, it is finally possible to see what the NACH construction consortium and the court had always envisaged: a prominent, recognisable, authoritative and functional building, with some surprising elements.
Process and community engagement manager for NACH (New Amsterdam Court House) Bauke van der Goot has just returned from holiday, so it’s also been quite a while since he took a tour inside the new courthouse. With a sense of satisfaction and justified pride, he shows us what progress they’ve made. ‘With the scaffolding now gone, you can finally see how spacious it is and how much light comes into the building.’ It’s also now possible to appreciate the full impact of the materials used. ‘The natural stone achieves just the look and feel that we wanted: solid and calming.’ Van der Goot is pleased to see how everything has fallen into place. It certainly needs to – in just five months’ time (1 February 2021), the new courthouse will hold its first sessions.
Furniture ready and waiting
As we wander past the six bright and spacious large courtrooms downstairs, what strikes you is that even the furniture is already standing ready and waiting. It’s still in its packaging and the builders occasionally have to manoeuvre to get past it. Van der Goot: ‘On the one hand, it’s good that so much has already arrived, but it also creates a logistical challenge. You have to put the furniture somewhere and because we’re so busy, it’s actually something of a hindrance. Fortunately, the situation is workable and we’re on schedule.’ Has coronavirus had no effect on the timetable? ‘To some extent, but not a huge impact. A lot of time and energy was spent creating a safe workplace for our builders and schedules were continually being adapted because of delayed deliveries. But it’s been possible to manage it.’
The next milestone to look forward to will be 16 November 2020. ‘The handover certificate for the building is scheduled for that date, meaning that the courthouse will then officially own the building. After that, the courthouse will run tests and we still have enough time for the final jobs, but we actually need to be more or less finished by then.’ Currently, alongside the final touches to the building work, most of the time is being spent testing the systems, which are slightly more specialist for a courthouse than for other public buildings. ‘There’s the security system to consider. Of course, that needs to be 100% approved before the court can sit.’ Climate control, lighting, telecoms and sound systems for the court rooms also all need to be in order.
The works around the courthouse are also progressing well. The natural stone contours of the slope that leads from Parnassusweg to the new courthouse can now be seen clearly. And the large public square that will form the link between Parnassusweg and the courthouse entrance is also beginning to take shape. The planters are almost complete, as are the skylights that will provide daylight to the spaces under the square. The natural stone base for the pond is also ready. And what about the artwork that will be in front of the square? Van der Goot: ‘It will be erected in the months ahead. What it will look like is being kept secret for now.’ From the square, there is a great view of the new courthouse itself. ‘The steel façade structures indicate where the public spaces are located. After that, you can clearly see a different structure, behind which the restaurant and conference rooms will be and, from next year, the top four floors will accommodate the staff.’
NACH recently won the Construsoft BIM award, in the ‘Public Projects’ category. BIM (Building Information Modelling) is a digital representation of all of the physical and functional characteristics of a building that serves as a guide during construction. Van der Goot: ‘We received the award primarily because of the steel structure that is so characteristic of the building. It was a great boost in this last, very hectic period.’ You can find more photographs here.