Zuidas Architecture - EMA HQ: new architectural landmark fits seamlessly in Zuidas

Zuidas is renowned for its pioneering architecture. As it matures into an international quarter of Amsterdam, buildings are shooting up right and left in Zuidas. Amidst all these modern skyscrapers, it may be difficult to imagine that just about 20 years ago this stretch of land connecting the residential neighbourhoods of Zuid and Buitenveldert consisted mostly of tennis courts and football pitches. In this series we zoom in on the architecture of Zuidas. This time, we take a closer look at the EMA building.

The EMA headquarters went up in Zuidas in almost no time at all. Two years was all it took to erect a brand-new iconic building tailored to its users, but also attuned to its rich architecture environment. The design articulates in all kinds of ways what this building stands for. The EMA supervises the quality and safety of new medicinal products for human and animal use in the European Union. This is reflected in the building’s light, straightforward character, achieved with large expanses of glass to project the transparency befitting a public agency. The façade consists of a grid of aluminium piers and beams with recessed windows that simultaneously block direct sunlight. The aluminium is coated in a light bronze colour; the window frames in a darker brown. This combination of different shades of bronze, alternating with the glass panes, gives the building a familiar, reliable feel. User- friendless is also key in the design, which includes abundant greenery inside as well as outside. Employees can dash up to the rooftop garden for a breath of fresh air and there’s also planting in the atrium that helps purify air indoors. Last but not least, green is also a foil for the dark tonalities outside, while the incorporation of lots of planting both indoors and out blurs the transition between the two worlds. All this enables the EMA building to fit seamlessly with its surrounding environment, as though it’s always been part of the fabric of Zuidas.