Brinkmann Complex

The Netherlands
under construction
100 appartments
ir. Heiko Hulsker| ir. Robbert van der Lee| ing. Nicky Vrijhoef|
housing, residential, transformation, reconstruction

In the heart of Haarlem lies the Brinkmann Complex, also known as the Brinkmann Passage. The Brinkmann Complex is part of a large residential block facing the Grote Markt and surrounded by the Barteljorisstraat, Schoutensteeg and Smedestraat. Here, the structures and facades of the old inner city date back to the 14th century. Behind these historical facades, lies a fascinating and turbulent history.

The Brinkmann Complex in 2020 ©Ossip


In 1982 the new Brinkmann Passage opened its doors to the public. It was designed as a large shopping mall, including a cinema and business. Already before its construction, citizens of Haarlem were unsure about the large amount of offices that were planned to be built. Within a year of its construction, the first retailers decide to leave the passage because of the low revenue. Over time, the standard for luxury shops had to be set lower. In both 1988 and 2000 efforts were made to reanimate the structure by adding programs, giving it a facelift and redesigning the floorplan. All of these efforts were in vain, as in 2012 the Brinkmann Passage was branded second to last ugliest place in the Netherlands.
Brinkmann Passage in 1982 ©Collectie Collectie Fotoburo de Boer
Brinkmann Passage in 2005 ©Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed
Redesign by HeikoHulsker & Partners in 2020 ©Ossip

City scale

With respect to this history, We aim to redefine the scale and size of the inner city and revive the block with a new residential program. The new Brinkmann Complex will consist of 100 new houses, with a mix of properties for sale and rent.
One of the fundamental necessities for living, is light. By adding a ‘lifted’ square to the block, plenty of daylight is provided throughout the buildings. At the same time, the inner square is a reflection of the historic qualities of the city. 
Currently, the facades of the Smedestraat form an amorphous entity. Another important step in reflecting the size of the city, was to find and create a finer scale for the facades. This is expressed in the vertical articulation of the different houses along the street.
The Brinkmann Complex in 2020 ©Ossip
The Brinkmann Complex under construction 2024 ©Ossip
The Brinkmann Complex under construction 2024 ©Ossip

Facade analysis

A crucial part in redeveloping the Brinkmann Complex, was to revive the facades while respecting their history. In the period that these facades were owned by the municipality, the window frames were painted in similar colours. This has caused a loss of individual character and from that, a loss of quality of each building. 

In order to recover their character, a historic paint analysis was done of the facades facing the Grote Markt.  Together with conservation researcher and expert, Judith Bohan, we analyzed the historical use of colours for the window frames. On-site research to explore the different paint layers and more than 150 old images (photo’s, cards and paintings) were used in this study. From this, we could determine a wide range of colours for the different facades.  
As a main principle, we chose for ‘lighter’ window frames and ‘darker’ windows and doors. Per building, we made an estimation of what matched the findings of the historical research best. No simple and uniform answers were found as the color choices were shaped by coherence and context, with the individual character of each building as a starting point.

The redevelopment started in November 2022. In 2025 we hope to welcome the first residents on this remarkable location.
Historical timeline
Resulting window frame colour choices
Historical facade analysis