The over 100 year-old Ajax Amsterdam is a Dutch football club based in Amsterdam. The city has completely related to this legendary and world-famous club: Amsterdam is Ajax, Ajax is Amsterdam. The Dutch national team has built its reputation over time, and the club has won all the awards in the profession: the Champions’ League, the UEFA Cup and the European Cup winners’ cup.
In 2010, Sid Lee Architecture, in collaboration with gsmprjct°, Sid Lee, and Jimmy Lee, was mandated by the AFC (Ajax Football Club) to create the brand new Ajax Experience, a museum experience that praises the epic sports franchise, allowing the visitors to discover what has led Ajax to become one of the most respected teams in the history of football.
Located beforehand at the Ajax Stadium in a more classic and smaller space, and then relocated at the Arena stadium at the outskirts of the city, the Ajax football club’s museum would already attract a large number of football afficionados. However, the club wanted to give the museum a third life and have it this time in a more central position. So the goal was to turn this museum into an experience and to reconnect it to the heart of its city, Amsterdam.
The Ajax Experience is located on the most popular square in the center of Amsterdam, the Rembrandtplein, not far from the place the club was originally founded in 1900: the Café Oost- Indië in Kalverstraat. The Experience was set in an iconic building called the bank that used to host the ABN AMRO Bank, hence embodying this legendary place that bounds the team to its city. The Experience aims at celebrating a unique history of successes through a series of playful and interactive events, and inspiring historical memories. The visitors will be bathed into the discovery of the history of the team, its heroes, and they will find out what it takes to build a young player into an iconic player, in essence how Ajax succeeds in building the Giant players. At the term of the experience, the visitors will have fully understood how Ajax builds Giants.
The project is built around the peak of the trail: the stadium. It is located at the center of the museum, and its stadium-like architecture leaves a “reverse bleachers” feel to the whole museum. The trail is conceived as an enfilade so that the visitors can fully live the developing process of an athlete: from the Giants who’ve engraved his memory to his own glory on the field.
The museum is divided into 7 big steps or different experiences:
1. History Hall
2. The Ajax Academy
3. The Locker room
4. The “Pitch”
5. The Stadium
6. Ajax around the world
7. The Retail
Leaving the stadium, visitors enter a last exhibition experience, before entering the retail space. The last exhibition space in the Experience is totally devoted to and for the fans. The space is a dialogue between Ajax and its supporters,a tribute to their devotion and loyalty. This section aims to give the opportunity to each fan to participate to the House of Ajax in their own way. Meet the fans behind the building of Giants.
The retail space is the final stop before leaving the Experience. The retail displays are designed to follow the same esthetics as the rest of the open hall. It embodies the sculptural effects created in the open vista with, in addition, 3 lines of light conveying the relationship between Ajax and Adidas, one of their main sponsors.The retail area is also serviced by the main counter that also provides information, ticketing, and a cashier. The high ceilings of the space are also emphasized by large scale high displays that showcase some of the jerseys and balls that are sold on premise.
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands Architecture team: Sid Lee Architecture
Client: AFC Ajax
Graphic design: Sid Lee
Production and Postproduction: Jimmy Lee
Interactive & Museum exhibit + multimedia: gsmprjct°
Contractors: Fiction Factory