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KOEPELGEVANGENIS, Revealing the layers of time

Haarlem, the Netherlands


Project Description: Autumn Semester, Year 1, MSc in Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences.

Date: 02 February 2018

Project Location: Harmenjansweg 2-6, 2031 WK Haarlem

Studio: Heritage and Architecture MSc 1, 2018

Tutors: Peter van Velzen (DesignTutor) 


For this research and design project, given the location of the “Koepelgevangenis complex” the brief was borrowed by the then current “University College” inspired concept of the “Stichting Panopticum”. The idea behind the concept was that the “University College” would be an open and accessible building. As such, the former prison complex would become part of the city life while its spaces could also serve other groups of people than students and teachers, especially beyond the school hours. The  challenge was thus for us  to  incorporate other activities and functions in order to reach this goal.

The main University space houses the educational functions such as education space and lecture rooms with different sizes. A separated area for staff is reserved to assist in accessibility and openness of the design while another important space in the complex was the Library so as to balance the relation and connectivity with other spaces in the building complex.

The difference between my project and the given brief however was that in order to maintain the Dome’s monumentality and richness but also in order to allow for the public visitors and the city to experience this historic layers and evolution of the prison complex, I chose to design, in the hearth of the site, a Performance space. An auditorium, a theatre, a concert hall however you define it, with different levels of seating and multiple servicing functions all around like bars, toilets, more relaxed sitting areas, places to meet, to exchange ideas and reflect on our history. This not only linked the University function with the existing architecture but also allowed the Prison Complex to become not only historically and notoriously  famous but also culturally part of the city’s growth.

The concept “Revealing the layers of time” constitutes my attempt to present the different historic periods of the prison complex and became the driving force of my interventions  from site to building scale.

Please click on the thumbnails below to view the rest of the project.

Koepelgevangenis Haarlem - Willem Cornelis Metzelaar 

Existing Situation 2017