The embassy building
The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Warsaw
The embassy building
The Netherlands has a special relationship with Poland, and is committed to supporting its transformation. In 1997, the Netherlands decided to illustrate its commitment with a new ‘calling card’ in the shape of a new embassy. On 1 October 2004 the building was opened by Dutch Minister for European Affairs Atzo Nicolaï and his Polish counterpart Jarosław Pietras.
In the green setting of Łazienki Park, the Netherlands is represented by a strikingly contemporary embassy designed by a leading Dutch firm, Erick van Egeraat associated architects. Van Egeraat’s design was inspired by the 17th-century Dutch master builder Tylman van Gameren, whose commissions included Nieborów Palace, Branicki Palace in Białystok and the St Casimir Church in Warsaw.
Like Van Gameren’s buildings, the embassy is notable for its relative simplicity, its details, its finishing touches and the way it has been decorated. One example is the glazed screen at the building’s corners. The artfully designed gate on the embassy’s street side is also a decorative feature as well as a partition.
Often the same materials are used on both the inside and the exterior of the building. Glass, concrete and wood are the chief elements. The ingenious use of similar materials on the floors inside and the pavement outside make the structure seem to stretch from the inside outwards. Characteristic of the interior is the recurrent ‘rhythm’, the cadence of doors, staircases and pillars. A continual variation in scale enables the building to retain its playful quality. Clever use has been made of the interplay between direct and indirect light to give the embassy an exceptionally warm feel.
Also typical of the structure is its transparency, which is symbolic of the accessibility that the Dutch government strives for. To underscore this accessibility, the embassy regularly offers group tours, which are organised on request by its Press and Cultural Affairs Division.
The Polish public’s approval of the embassy’s design was demonstrated in 2005 when the building won first prize in that year’s prestigious Życie w architekturze (Life in Architecture) competition held by the leading Polish architectural magazine Architektura-Murator. The award not only contributed to the positive image of the Netherlands in Poland, but also sparked a lively interest among Poles in Dutch architecture and design. The prize can thus be seen as a sign of appreciation for the Netherlands’ striking new face in Poland.