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Restauration and transformation of historic canal house to Japan Museum

For the Netherlands’ State Building Agency we converted three canal houses into the Siebold House, a new museum for the collection of Von Siebold, who lived in 19th century in Japan with a space for changing exhibitions and lecture rooms. The building has national heritage status and has experienced a turbulent past. It was originally three buildings in the late 16th century which, over the centuries, had been joined, converted, extended and given new front and rear facades. Each room, dated from different period has its own character and atmosphere. Maintaining and resorting the authentic character was the primary choice as the Siebold House a listed national heritage.

There were two major functional tasks: a building physics assignment and making a private house accessible to the public. This radical change had to take place in harmony with the requirements of a heritage building and made for a highly complex design process. As a public building it has to meet the needs of physically less mobile people, fire regulations and to have a clear layout. The most significant intervention we made, was to installed a lift with the staircase around it and the toilet facilities which connect the existing staircase towards the attic. The position was determined by looking for the most logical and least damaging position

Two rooms in the Siebold House are suitable for lectures and other stage meetings. The multipurpose hall on the top floor is used for concerts, as lecture hall of the University of Leiden, for temporary exhibitions and workshops.

Renovation monumental mansion to museum
Rapenburg, Leiden, The Netherlands
December 2004
Country Building Service
Collaborators: Olivier Langejan
Etsuko Yamada
Floor Area:
1500 m2
Building costs:
3.175.000 euro

Photography: Luuk Kramer

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