House With The Heads

year: 2014
size: < 1 ha
type: specials
client: Stichting Huis met de Hoofden
As part of a closed competition LOLA has been selected as the designer of the garden for the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica/Ritman Library in Amsterdam. The library contains a substantial private collection of valuable books of great historic, scientific and material value to the study of Hermeticism and related currents. Established by the Dutch businessman Joost Ritman in 1984, a portion of the collection has the status of National Art Heritage. Highlights of the collection include the Corpus Hermeticum of 1471 and the first illustrated edition of Dantes Divine Comedy from 1481.

In the autumn of 2015 the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica will relocate to the House with the Heads (built 1622) on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam, reestablishing the houses place in history as a platform for free and contrarian thinking. Originally the family residence of the De Geers in the 17th century it housed an extensive library where the family welcomed innovative thinkers such as Comenius and promoted free exchange of ideas. As of 2015, the house will once again be what it was originally: a home with a library and rooms welcoming open exchanges. With the BPHs unique collection of volumes on Western spiritual and philosophical tradition the House with the Heads once again becomes inseparable from Amsterdams history of freedom of speech, press, religion and thought. The reopening of the house and the relocation of the library keeps the living tradition Hermetically Open for a new generation and opens access to a wider audience.

For the new garden LOLA has proposed a striking dark stone ellipse as the central element. From the center window of the second floor of the house the ellipse is seen as a perfect circle: the symbol for infinity. A thin layer of water on the surface reflects the sky above. In other words, this symbol of infinity is also a mirror to the cosmos. This symbology references themes which are very important in the collections of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica. The oval stone is a multifunctional platform: when drained it can be used as a stage for events. The plants in the garden will form a collection of species either referenced in the literature of the library or important to the history of the house itself.
The pavilion
Top view