New Look, Old Building

Since we moved here, the western end of town has seen constant construction due to the renovation/rebuilding of the Vredenburg Music Hall. The building was originally constructed in 1979 and has hosted a variety of concerts and musical events, but it was becoming a bit shabby and too small, so a new music palace is under construction. Two of the main halls of the original building remain, but they have been encased in a larger, more opulent structure.

The rebuilding is just one part of the CU2030 revitalization project that is part of a major reworking of that whole side of town, including the music hall, the Hoog Catharijne shopping center, the train station, and the highway that’s being turned back into a canal. In other words, it’s all a big, ugly mess these days.

There’s a large square behind the music hall, which is where the local market is held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. That’s the part I usually see, but I’ve been seeing other parts of it in the past couple of weeks as I’ve headed to the train station a few times. While heading home one day, I snapped a couple of shots of the new façade of the building, with the Domtoren off in the distance on the right.


I’m not sure how I feel about the new building. It’s not that it’s modern in design; I think my hesitancy stems mainly from the fact that the whole area is still under construction, so it’s hard to not think of it all as cramped and busy. I’m sure once the work is completed on the whole area — including reopening the canal where the car in the top photo is — it will feel more open and clean and balanced. The plans for the area, which can be seen on the CU2030 website (in Dutch and English) do look appealing and certainly nicer than what we’ve got now!


I still worry that the older buildings across the street (seen above) will be overshadowed by this new music palace, but I’ll reserve judgement until it’s all finished. Amusingly, another palace of sorts once stood on roughly the same ground. The Vredenburg Castle, although short-lived, was constructed in that area in 1532. You can read more about it, including how Trijn and a group of women tore it down, at the castle’s Wikipedia page.

For what it’s worth, here’s a time-lapse video of the spot taken on the same day I took my photo. There are also live webcams available on the CU2030 website. You can get a better sense of how the new structure seems to tower over the nearby buildings.

7 thoughts on “New Look, Old Building

  1. In the past I attended several concerts at Vredenburg varying from Klezmer music to a Melissa Etheridge kick. The acoustic was perfect and I wonder what the sound will be like when the building is finished. I am not so fond of the outside but it doesn’t look too modern so that makes me happy. Thanks for the info about the website CU2030.

    • Hopefully by keeping the large and small halls, the acoustics will remain the same. It would be a shame to go through all of this and have it not sound right afterward! Glad to share the website. I’ve been checking it periodically for the past couple of years and there’s some interesting information there.

  2. I share your worries. In my case enhanced by the fact that I can also remember the first time they reconstructed this area. That was also supposed to be a great improvement over what was there before. Have you ever seen this promotional film from the 1970s? Much of what they show there as ‘to be built’ has already been removed again. What I don’t like about the new ‘muziekpaleis’ is its size. It already literally casts a shadow over that older building. I also worry about the size of the new Hoog Catharijne part over the returning water. But you are also right about the fact that we can only truely appreciate how everything works when things are finished. Takes a couple of more years though…
    BTW only one of the two halls survived. Only the big hall. You can see an interesting video about the old muziekcentrum on youtube.

    • Thanks for the video links! Fascinating to see the first one, in particular, since I’ve been here long enough now to see what is changing and why some of it desperately needs changing! That whole area is just such an unattractive mess, but it really is kind of worrying to see how things are going so far. The whole Vredenburg construction just seems much too large and overwhelming for the area. I wasn’t impressed at all with the stores/apartments or whatever they are that went up first. I hope the rest does look better. It would be a shame to trade one monstrosity for another.

  3. thanks for this. the building will be known as the polka dot hall. I too worry about the old buildings. but as someone who has lived through the hell years of the BIG DIG in Boston, there is a light at the end of the literal tunnel. a few years from now, we will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

    • I think they are trying to come up with semi-official nicknames for the building. I like the polka dot hall! I do hope that the rest of the construction works out better. At least the rest of it is technically outside the old city center and will probably improve the area it’s in, rather than make it any worse. 😉

      • There will still be quite a bit of construction going on at Vredenburg for the next couple of years with the extension of the underground parking and the new entry building for Hoog Catharijne which will make Vredenburg quite a bit smaller (but better shape and probably a lot more functional and lively imho).

        New entry building (at the location where the ugly brown P&C building is at the moment):

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