Europahal and Signaal as icons of the reconstruction eraThe semi-circular Europahal of Amsterdam RAI and the accompanying advertising tower ‘Signaal’ have been officially designated as a national heritage site. The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands described the design by architect Alexander Bodon as a ‘characteristic example of innovation in the reconstruction era’.
Opened in 1961, the Europahal is the first building of the current RAI complex on the Europaplein, which is still being developed further with the Elicium (2009) and the Amtrium (opening in spring 2015) under the guidance of architect Mels Crouwel.
The Europahal has a significant architectural-historical value within the oeuvre of nationally renowned architect Alexander Bodon, who acted as the in-house architect for the RAI, and is the functional and architectonic highlight of Bodon’s magnum opus. A unique aspect is that the majority of the building elements that were added at a later time were either developed by or in cooperation with Bodon. The Signaal, designed by Dick Elffers, towers above the halls as a major landmark adjacent to the Europahal.
Over the decades the Europahal has hosted a wide variety of exhibitions and events. The span, which consists of narrow steel semi-circular ribs, has a width of 67.5 metres and a length of 195 metres. Although the RAI complex has been visited by a little less than 100 million people since its opening in 1961, the heritage site decision confirms that “the essence of the aesthetical, high-quality design of the functionally designed Europahal has been maintained in as good as new condition.”
The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands was full of praise regarding the attractive design and cultural-historic value of the building, which reflects the (economic) optimism of the reconstruction era. “The Europahal is architectonically valuable due to its aesthetic qualities which are mainly reflected in the large amount of space and clarity, lightness and transparency of the construction,” according to Marije de Heer Kloots of the Cultural Heritage Agency.
To Amsterdam RAI, the heritage site status is due recognition of a policy of consistent improvement. “With Alexander Bodon and his successor Mels Crouwel we have invested in creating a high-quality environment for our events throughout the decades,” says General Director Hans Bakker. “The fact that the architectural aspect is now being recognised fills us with pride. We continue to innovate in style with the Elicium and Amtrium building, positioning the RAI as a leading convention centre in Europe.”