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Ron Bakker has been working on the WTC for 25 years

‘Although I’ve lived in London for 32 years, Zuidas has always been a special place to me’, says Bakker. ‘The master plan for the WTC in 1996 was one of my first big projects. The building took eight years to complete. In the meantime, other projects in Zuidas came my way.’ Right now, it’s hard to miss the construction of Tower Ten, which Bakker designed too. And behind the scenes, he is making sketches of a potential expansion to the WTC on Mathijs Vermeulenpad. ‘Zuidas is one of the most exciting areas of Amsterdam. Nothing ever stands still here.’

WTC in 1988...
...and in 2001

Current needs and future requirements

The WTC dates from 1985, and for Bakker the challenge is to update it continuously so that it can meet current and future needs and sustainable requirements. It’s not the building that is key to this, but the WTC as part of a changing Zuidas. ‘Initially, the WTC was in a no man’s land. It looked like a closed office building: functional for the people who worked there, but without any frivolity. Better public transport links meant that ever more companies have been drawn to Zuidas. The area quickly became a business district. And in recent years you’ve seen a new change, which WTC is responding to: Zuidas is shifting from being just a business district towards becoming a fully-fledged city district in its own right – a place where people live, go out and spend time.’

Architect Ron Bakker

A blade of grass and organ

Bakker was able to give free rein to his creativity in the design for Tower Ten (seen in the top picture and the picture below). This new tower, which faces the Prinses Irene district and the Beatrixpark, needs some softer shapes. In terms of its height, Tower Ten needs to create a smooth transition from the Prinses Irenebuurt to the higher towers closer to the A10. ‘I was inspired by a waving blade of grass and an organ. You can see the blade of grass in the slight curve of the towers, and the ‘organ pipes’ are the tubes that are placed vertically.’

Artist's impression of Tower Ten

Built around an existing core

The owner of the WTC building, CBRE Global Investors, wanted this extension to be realized using the existing concrete core of one of the original towers. ‘That was quite challenging, because the storey height is lower than the building we are working on now. The whole thing has been gutted and the floors have been re-arranged. And volume has been added on it and next to it.’ Work on Tower Ten is now well underway. Completion is scheduled for mid-2022.

Possible site of WTC expansion

Hotel and surroundings

But that’s certainly not the end of the story for Bakker. He is currently working on the concept of three new WTC towers on Mathijs Vermeulenpad (along the A10). Although it is not yet clear whether this plan will get the go-ahead, Bakker believes that the new towers are needed and desirable. ‘Despite the pandemic, there is still a shortage of office space that has excellent accessibility and sustainability’, he says. ‘But it has to reflect the changing times we live in. Workers need different things from their workplaces than they did ten years ago. Work isn’t the sole focus. Today, offices need to be places where people can meet, share knowledge, be creative and spend time in a pleasant environment. An accessible building is part of that – somewhere everybody can feel at home.’ The surrounding area also needs a major upgrade. One of the Netherlands’ largest public transport hubs will soon be located right outside the WTC, and the motorway will disappear under the ground. That will create so many opportunities. ‘The Mathijs Vermeulenpad can become a really attractive street, with terraces and plenty of greenery. A street that connects seamlessly with the newly upgraded station area.’

Artist’s impression of the WTC and Mathijs Vermeulenpad


Bakker predicts that Zuidas will continue to reinvent itself. ‘In 50 years’ time, work will play a much less important role in our lives. I think we’ll be putting much more value on personal well-being and development, rather than material things and status. It wouldn’t surprise me if by then many of the office buildings in Zuidas have a different function. Perhaps my view of the future is a little romantic, but that’s the kind of future I hope for – for my children.’

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