One of the most interesting and beautiful architectural buildings of public use in Warsaw is the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at Kawalerii Street. Immersed in a landscape park around the Canal Piaseczynski, reminds more a sleek, modern mansion than diplomatic.
If it were not a distinctive, lovely stylized emblem of the Netherlands and bilingual inscription on a black marble, indicating that it is the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it would be difficult to guess the purpose of this object. Embassies are usually surrounded by thick walls that are difficult to jump break through but in this case the wall is replaced by the slight metal palisade in a form of green plants. This does not mean that the object is not properly guarded! But this type of fence brings friendly associations and in the best way represents mentality of Dutch people, their openness to the world and “transparency” – as it was expressed by John Edward Craanen, the ambassador of the Netherlands in 2004, at the time of opening the new diplomatic complex in Warsaw.
It was to be originally and funny – says Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat of Erick van Egeraat associated architects* who designed the building of the embassy. – I wanted to design something weird. Embassies always remind somehow fortresses, they must have high fences and gates. That’s why I came up with just such arousing no fear fence – of a “plant shape” and naturalistic. Besides, you can’t take everything too seriously. Always use a little slack.
This unconventional approach has been appreciated and rewarded by Warsaw. In 2005 van Egeraat’s design won first prize in the category of the public building in the 6th edition of the prestigious architectural competition “Życie w architekturze” (Living with architecture), issued by the leading architecture magazine “Architektura-Murator”. In granting this design jury took into consideration excellent combination of functionality of the facility with comfort and pleasure of its use. And it is necessary to say that the embassy complex also consists of ambassador residence, located in line with the embassy.
Between them there is the main entrance to the garden, which is decorated by – how else – a winding channel, a substitute the Netherlands. And in the garden some park trees are included as original part of the park has become a part of the project.
That park – with its Channel Piaseczyński – is located close to the Baroque Ujazdowski Castle. “Baroque” is the most appropriate definition of inspiration of van Egeraat’s work. Dutch architect refers to the style of his compatriot Tielman van Gameren, who in the second half of the 17th century built in Warsaw plenty of palaces and churches (read: Architect of Utrecht). The reference to the Tielman’s style is manifested by van Egeraat in simplicity of his design and baroque richness of the materials used for construction. (The truth is that real Tielman had not such possibilities as we write in his story.) There is a color and varied texture of the stones, wood, veneers, glass, metal and raw concrete.
The same type of materials is used on the exterior and interior of the building. On the street side of both buildings dominate the stone and marble, and at garden side – at least in the mansion – a glass.
The hall of the embassy is decorated in a very original way. On the ceiling are placed 277 photo portraits of citizens of the Netherlands, made by Erwin Olaf. All photos are in blue, what alleviates the differences in the color of the skin.
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is located on the Kawalerii 10 street (Cavalry 10), in a very nice, green area of Warsaw (embassy district), in the immediate vicinity of the Lazienki Park. Going to the famous park (see: Warsaw) it is worth detour and take a walk down this street.
* Presently Eric van Egeraat works for Designed by Erik van Egeraat (dbEVE)
Photo: Renata Głuszek, Krzysztof Weyher (interior)