Monumental building Amsterdam


Conversion and upgrade of a monumental building into high-end apartments and office spaces

Nomination ‘Dezeen Awards 2022’

Shortlisted for the ‘Frame Awards 2022’

Nomination ‘Arc Awards interior 2022’

In the Museum square neighborhood in the city centre of Amsterdam Bureau Fraai completed a conversion and upgrade of a monumental building into high-end apartments and office spaces. The architects took their inspiration from the Claire-obscur technique applied by the painter Gerard van Honthorst (after whom the street ‘Honthorststraat’ is named) who was a gifted follower of the famous ‘claire-obscur’ painter Caravaggio. This characteristic building and once beautiful monumental interior with a total of 4 stories and a souterrain had lost its charm throughout the time and lack of ownership and maintenance.

But both the new owner and municipality wanted this building to be restored and upgraded with full respect and care for all the monumental characteristics, details and quality. Therefor all the existing characteristics and details were well documented and photographed to ensure they would be restored accordingly.

Office spaces are created on the ground floor and in the souterrain. On the upper floors spacious high-end apartments are created by respecting the typical existing building lay-out with a front and rear room separated by an open ensuite cabinet.

“Respecting the old and embracing the new”

For the new interior design Bureau Fraai took the approach of ‘respecting the old and embracing the new’ by combining the characteristics features of the existing interior with contemporary design features and interventions. They took the ‘claire-obscur’ technique as their main inspiration. Claire-obscur is a technique from painting in which the light-dark contrasts are portrayed more strongly than they are often in reality. This produces a dramatic effect that accentuates three-dimensional shapes.

Bureau Fraai designed these strong light-dark contrasts within the apartments and offices by introducing uncolored interior interventions opposing the light grey basic colour. The harmony of theses quite dramatic interventions with the refined existing characteristics resulted in strong and unique ‘clair-obscur’ identities for each and every floor.



completed 2021




Bouwbedrijf van Schaik

interior builder:

Profiel B.V.

structural engineer:

Structure Engineering


Honthorststraat, Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

project typology:

residential & office


Flare Department

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