"Philharmonie - a Game of Historical Illusion"

architect Fritz van Dongen
project Renovation and Expansion of the Haarlem's Concert Hall, Haarlem, the Netherlands
written by Hans van Wetering


When, in 1999, Dutch architect Frits van Dongen was commissioned to renovate Haarlem’s concert hall and expand it with a new addition, it must have seemed like an impossible assignment. The building itself lacked a clear structure, consisting of a jumble of buildings – the majority of which originally served a completely different function – linked by a maze of hallways, small staircases and technical infrastructure added over time. The building was also situated in the city’s historical heart, with all the sensitivities that entails. The demolition of the factory complex of one of the country’s oldest printing businesses, located in the area since 1763, ruffled quite a few feathers.