Palace of Justice / Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen Architecten

Palace of Justice / Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen Architecten

  • Palace of Justice / Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen Architecten
  • Palace of Justice / Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen Architecten


The Magistrate’s Court in Amsterdam is an important public building that hosts a very complex program.
Within a very strict zoning plan it manifests itself as an abstract and light yet robust and timeless complex. The materialization is of high quality and precise without being condescending, a public building worthy.

The Magistrate’s Court consists two out of the five buildings that constitute the IJDok complex; a mega block with radical intersections that were originally designed to accentuate existing lines of sight from the city. The multifunctional building integrates different functions efficiently: courtrooms, detention centre, offices, library, restaurant, conference centre, parking and the so-called observation area (public foyer). The design brief was logistically and organizational one of the most difficult tasks imaginable for an architect. And yet the Magistrate’s Court as a whole has a friendly, sustainable and inviting but at the same representative appearance.

The prominent location on the old ‘IJ’ lake near Central Station emphasizes the great significance for the city. There is an extreme urban situation where a very complex public program for two users (Amsterdam Court and Public Prosecutor) had to be housed in a strictly defined urban envelope. More specifically the Magistrate’s Court is an office building on top of a complex with courtrooms separated by a transfer zone with restaurants, library and conference centre. On the fifth floor the main building is connected to a ten-storey office tower of the Public Prosecutor by a pedestrian bridge.

The main entrance is situated beneath a gigantic canopy and faces Amsterdam Central Station. The public interior has large windows that afford a view of the historic centre. The offices have the farthest view: nothing but water and (historic) city.


Sustainability was an important topic in the design and construction process of the Magistrate’s Court. Upon completion of the building the BREEAM certificate “Good” was issued. The real sustainable success of the building will, however, eventually derive from its high quality materialization and strong identity.


The observation area and courtrooms are explicitly designed for the public character of this part of the building. The three levels in which they are located are connected by both stairs as escalators. The continuity of this important area, which also functions as a waiting area, is enhanced by meticulous mounted marble on floors and walls. The material refers to the famous ‘Vierschaar’ in the Royal Palace, the oldest courthouse in the city.

Other rooms in the building are predominantly light or white.

This generic colour masks imperceptibly the very complex layout of different routes: the observation area (for the public), the protected area (for judges and general attorneys) and the vital area (for prisoners). These routes are completely separated and only meet in the courtrooms. To solve this program within the given time and agreed construction costs, commissioned by a developer, is for us a source of great professional pride.

Why brick?

Brick is the most normal and most versatile material, and therefore most appropriate.


Extra Info

INTERIOR: Felix Claus Dick van Wageningen Architecten
Client: WesterIJdock C.V.
Mr. Remco van der Heijden 0031 30 2578915
commissioned by Rijksgebouwendienst Den Hague
commissioned by Ministry of Justice
Projectleaders: an Kerkhoff & Mike Heemrood Katrin Weber, James Webb, Mike Heemrood, Marijn van de Weijer, Xander Vermeulen Windsant, Wally Glashouwer, Yvonne Lebeda, Kerstin Hartmann, John Bosch
Start Construction: collision protection; June 2008
basement layers; June 2009
Palace of Justice; January 2011
Completion: 19-09 2013
Building Costs (ex VAT): € 75.000.000, Palace of Justice € 2.418.715,- incl. disbursement
Honorary (ex VAT): Palace of Justice built-in € 409.177, incl. disbursement
GFA: Total 34.110 sqm
Offices 17.400 sqm
Courtrooms and public foyer 7.400 sqm
Special program 2.640 sqm
Parking 3.220 sqm
Cell and interrogation area 1.450 sqm
Archives 1.200 sqm
Outdoor space 350 sqm
Commercial space 250 sqm
Judicial police 200 sqm