The new office- and conference building to accommodate the European Medicines Agency (EMA) was, because of Brexit, designed and constructed within 1,5 years. In a process characterised by complexity and speed, Fokkema & Partners Architects was able to incorporate a high degree of co-creation with EMA in the elaboration and materialisation of the complete interior.
Client Government Real Estate Agency
Location Amsterdam
Square 38.500
Timeline January 2018 - November 2019

As the European Medicines Agency will receive around 36,000 guests on a yearly basis, hospitality is key to the design. The EMA building measuring 38.500 m2 requires a highly representative, yet modest environment that fits its international status and workstyles as well as the conference areas to host large meetings with visiting companies, government agencies and academic professionals.

By visualising all of the building interior in 3D from the start of the tender, Fokkema & Partners was able to clarify and discuss the design options with the representatives of EMA, allowing for their input. Based on experience in high-end interior and workplace design, the team was also able to include some optimizations in the building core & shell, to ensure a natural orientation, future flexibility, and a straightforward layout of the workplace- and conference concepts for EMA. The careful materialisation, orientation and acoustic planning with regard to user wellbeing, all contribute to the total experience of the interior as a warm and professional environment, reflecting the stature of EMA as an important international institute.

Thanks to the strong focus on the communal goal of delivering the building within 1,5 year, all building partners collaborated with an incredible sense of team spirit to achieve the utmost for the future occupants.

The preliminary building design was made by Fokke van Dijk of the Central Government Real Estate Agency and part of the bid book that finally resulted in the choice for Amsterdam for the EMA Agency. Though this choice for Amsterdam may have been debated by international media, construction works steadily proceeded to meet the unusually time-pressured relocation, due to Brexit. This demanded a nearly parallel design process for the interior (Fokkema & Partners Architecten), core & shell (MVSA) and landscaping (OKRA), resulting in the architect's teams working much of the time together on site.

Construction Combination ‘BCEMA’ had already started the process of obtaining materials and permits during the 2-month tender period, giving the construction phase a head-start once selected in February 2018. Building works started as early as May 2018 while during the summer of 2018, the concrete building core was growing with 10 centimetres an hour, topping out on September 18th 2018. The steel construction to make the floors took around a week per floor, with construction and fit-out proceeding on various levels simultaneously. Still, we were able to realise a sustainable building, performing at nearly energy-neutral: in January 2020 the BREEAM Excellent Design Certificate was obtained.

Construction-combination ‘BC EMA’, a collaboration between Dura Vermeer and Heijmans realised and delivered the new premises for EMA in Amsterdam within the deadline on Friday the 15th of November 2019. A maintenance phase of twenty years is included in the contract. The combination with its partners MVSA Architects, OKRA Landschapsarchitecten, Fokkema & Partners Architecten, DGMR, DWA, SDR Elektrotechniek, Van Dorp, Van Rossum Raadgevende Ingenieurs take pride in this accomplishment, the result of an intense collaboration.

Photography by Corné Bastiaanse and Rob Acket.