After years of planning and preparation, the new Amsterdam Court House finally opened its doors in 2021. The new courthouse is a stately building comprising 47,250 m2 of offices, an in-house restaurant, 50 courtrooms and council chambers, interrogation rooms and areas for detainees.
A seamless, monolithic acoustic solution
The 50 metre high building is open and welcoming, but it is the spaciously designed foyers around the courtrooms that provide the “wow” factor. With 1200 employees and 800-1000 visitors per day, the building is the largest courthouse in the Netherlands. In close collaboration with architectural firm KAAN Architecten Rotterdam and the installer Verwol Projectafbouw, all requirements of the consortium NACH - responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the new building - were met.
Large windows in the lower half of the building allow views from the street into the interior, and the walls and floors are made from natural stone. Whilst the design is a sea of space and light, these materials are hard surfaces which can contribute to an unpleasant reverberation and echo. To create the right acoustic balance, the ceiling and walls are fitted with Rockfon Mono Acoustic.
According to Architect and Project Manager Luuk Dietz, the building had to be functional, recognizable and authoritative. “The primary process of justice is key and should not be disrupted. Despite the dynamics of this busy public place with high ceilings and stone floors and walls, the strict acoustic criteria had to be met. The only solution which suited our vision was a monolithic solution like Rockfon Mono Acoustic.”
The architectural firm KAAN Architecten designed the new court and to optimise the acoustics, they explicitly opted for the seamless ceiling and wall system Rockfon Mono Acoustic as it has a sleek, monolithic appearance.
“Great acoustics are also very important in courtrooms” says Process Manager at contractor Heijmans, Bauke van der Goot, “We have looked for the right partners and we trust the advice from specialists like installer company Verwol Projectafbouw. They were able to create the perfect acoustic balance where needed.”
A real eye-catcher solved the strict noise requirements
Whilst the courthouse is architecturally inspiring, it is also human-centred where transparency and accessibility needs to be balanced with safety and privacy. The location of the foyer is a special feature, visible from all sides of the building.
“The facade runs from the ground floor and up to the third floor. It’s completely transparent giving the visitor the opportunity to look into the city from the foyer and look into the foyer from the city.” says Dietz.
“The Rockfon Mono Acoustic ceiling actually serves as an eye-catcher in the transparent foyer as it’s a seamless, flat and fine-grained sleek system where all kinds of services can be concealed. In addition, these systems fully meet the acoustic requirements that this stately and public building must meet. The strict requirements for speech intelligibility and reverberation time apply to all rooms in the building. And the smaller courtrooms and hallways that run along all the office floors are also equipped with Rockfon Mono Acoustic.”
A seamless transition between walls and ceilings
High footfall in any area naturally raises noise levels. To prevent echoing, the walls in the foyer are covered with Rockfon Mono Acoustic panels, providing a seamless transition with the ceilings.
“The only solution we found suitable to meet the strict requirements set by the Central Government Real Estate Agency was the Rockfon Mono Acoustic seamless ceiling and wall system.”
The new courthouse has c.13,500 m2 of installed Rockfon Mono Acoustic panels.
“The great thing about this acoustic system is that it’s a sleek, seamless system where it looks like a plastered wall or ceiling. The only disadvantage is that it’s extremely difficult to navigate and figure out a way out as the whole design is perfectly fitted.”
To aid navigation, the ceiling has round shutters with the same finish as the Rockfon Mono Acoustic panels, blending into the design and following the rhythm of the other components in the ceiling.”
Rockfon Area Sales Manager, Edgar Belonje thinks this is an impressive case study as it has various types of Rockfon ceiling and wall solutions installed.
“All components in the ceiling such as sprinklers, speakers and smoke detectors are laid out in a regular pattern. The Rockfon Mono Acoustic panels are placed against the top half of the walls in the courtrooms, inquiry chambers and council chambers. In addition, 12,000 m2 of modular Rockfon Blanka ceiling tiles in various edges are used to create the desired design. These tiles have been placed in courtrooms, heavy traffic spots and in the restaurant. And by combining the different ceiling designs, from an elegant X-side to a functional A-side, it creates an alignment with extreme white and matt surfaces everywhere.”
High standards on reverberation and sound absorption
Head of Calculation and Purchasing at Verwol Complete Interior Realization, Erwin Verlegh explains that the client Rijksvastgoedbedrijf set high standards for the values on echo and sound absorption for the new courthouse.
“For this project, we often used scrum sessions with KAAN Architecten and Heijmans about how to interpret and realise the many square metres of ceiling and wall finishing. It was sometimes difficult as it needed to fit within the vision of the architect and the budget. The ideal thing about the design and construction is that the decisions are made in team sessions with specialists to ensure a successful result.”
Process Manager of the NACH Project, Bauke van der Goot reflects that quite early in the process, Verwol opted for Rockfon Mono Acoustic as the best acoustic and aesthetic solution for the design.
“Good acoustics are an important part of public areas of the building, especially the courtrooms. And the ceiling and wall systems must make a significant contribution to the best acoustic balance. These acoustic systems also serve as a foundation for the artworks of artist Femmy Otten, as her art was specifically designed for the building. It’s a challenge to attach these works of art to the walls but the system perfectly allows and matches it.”
Dietz says that he thinks the intensive collaboration with the project partners is one of the highlights of the project.
“Ultimately, the building turned out so well down to the last detail because all parties were equal. Not only Heijmans, but all subcontractors were treated as partners in the construction process. Collaboration with parties that are on the same page makes this a successful project,” says Dietz.
The first hearings took place in the new court in Amsterdam on 3 May 2021.
New Court House of Amsterdam
1076 AV Amsterdam