At first sight the two buildings by Rietveld and Kurokawa look very different. This is hardly surprising: the two architects come from different cultures, different traditions and different periods in history. Rietveld’s building shows the taut lines and rectangular forms of Modernism. Kurokawa’s building belongs to the age of Post-Modern architecture; the main shape is an ellipse and it has many round, half round and curved forms.

However, Kurokawa’s building does include one striking rectangular form: the ‘box’ of the Print Room, a cube protruding obliquely from the facade. This nod towards Rietveld may be seen as the Japanese architect’s tribute to his renowned Dutch predecessor.

Kurokawa has also incorporated other, slightly more abstract allusions to Rietveld’s building. For example, as in the main building, there is an atrium which makes it possible to see the visitors below from a higher level.

Kurokawa has also shown respect for Rietveld’s work by not making the new wing too high; a large part of it is below ground level. This ensures that the view of the Rietveld building, from the Museumplein and other points, is obstructed as little as possible. In this way Kurokawa makes his somewhat lower wing ‘look up’ to Rietveld’s building, and bow to it.

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