National Monument Kamp Amersfoort
During World War II, around 45,000 mostly political prisoners were held for a period of time in this camp that generally acted as prison camp. ‘Kamp Amersfoort’ was under direct command of the SS.
Fifteen years ago, Inbo designed an information and educational pavilion on the camp grounds.
Years later, the desire arose to expand the memorial site and to visualise the history of the camp. During the design phase, former camp residents advised architect Jacques Prins to focus on having visitors feel how it was rather then diving too far into reconstructions.
When visitors pass the gate, they reach a desolate, open space that is fenced off by high walls. This spaciousness feels oppressing, in the way the prisoners felt entirely abandoned and detached. The only remaining witnesses are a few trees that were already there during World War II. The open square is also the roof of the new underground museum, which is thrice as large as the information centre.
The museum is a place of mémoir et miroir. Reflecting, remembering and, most importantly, looking ahead. What is the current state of affairs of what transpired here? What do we learn from it?
The visitors escape the darkness and scale into the light by way of stairs. Once outside, they are confronted by a long line of sight along the shooting range to the ‘stone man’, a memorial monument at the execution place on the other side of the forest.
The office of the camp commander, once so distressingly present, has been left as a negative space in the surface pavilion, whose exterior is made of mirrored glass.
Jacques Prins: “The new memorial has a reserved architecture. We think it will remain topical just as long as the existing building. It is rightfully an integral design: the initiators, staff members, the volunteers, the board members, the exposition designers, the landscape architect and the process supervisors, every person has had a demonstrable influence on this memorable location.”
- Stichting Nationaal Monument Kamp Amersfoort
- Jacques Prins, Tom Hartmanns, Igor Sokolov, Bart van Veen, Mas van Vliet, Stephanie Zeulevoet, André Kanters, Frans Timmers