Dutch museum addition gets composite exterior skin

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, will feature large sandwich structures made with carbon fiber and aramid fiber and a vinyl ester resin matrix to form the laminate skins surrounding a foam core.


Teijin (Tokyo, Japan) announced on July 20 that its fibers are the reinforcement used in the massive composite panels that are going up on the face of the Stedelijk Museum addition (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). When it is finished, the project will result in what is said to be the largest composite-clad building in the world. A large number of the panels are already in place on what will eventually be known as “The Bathtub.” The large white addition is a modern counterpart to the adjacent historic brick building, completed in 1895.

Teijin produced and donated Twaron aramid fiber and Tenax carbon fiber for the composite façade structure. Designed by BenthemCrouwel Architects (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), the structure, which appears to float above the ground, covers an area of about 3,000m2/32,291 ft2. An exterior solution was required that would minimize thermal expansion of the material in order to maintain its seamless appearance in changing weather conditions. An analysis provided by the engineering firm Solico B.V. (Oosterhout, The Netherlands) showed that the optimal solution is a sandwich construction, with inner and outer skins made with Twaron and Tenax fibers wet out with vinyl ester resin over a foam core. The composite façade is expected to expand only 1 mm/0.04 inch per degree Celsius of temperature rise, according to the analysis. The same façade made with fiberglass composite or aluminum would expand almost two and a half times as much, say the designers.

Holland Composites (Lelystad, The Netherlands) produced the panels using unidirectional fabrics. The sandwich skins consist of two plies of Twaron fabric with carbon fiber fabric in between, oriented perpendicular to the aramid. In all, the façade consists of 271 panel elements containing 4,850 kg/10,692 lb of Twaron and 4,050 kg/8,929 lb of Tenax. The panels are being joined on site, using a wet laminating method to form the continuous façade expanse. The completed addition should open later this year.


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