area 100 | changing cities

architect: MVRDV

location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

year: 2002

Along a jetty in the Amsterdam Y–river a mixed programme of 160 houses, offices, work spaces, commercial spaces and public spaces has been squeezed into a tight urban envelope. These elements involved four different clients: a housing developer, a housing corporation, a developer of workspaces and the city of Amsterdam. The extreme variety of requirements has been addressed by finding the ‘common unit’ within the programme: a series of ‘mini-neighbourhoods’, each consisting of 4-8 apartments each of which, as a reaction to increasing individualisation, tries to create a more social and safer living environment. Each neighbourhood has its own collective access principle to suit its requirements: a hall, a high corridor, a large balcony, an alley, a garden, a patio – each generating a specific housing type, structure and façade. By stacking them independently next to and on top of each other, a system emerges of routes through the building. When mixed with workspaces and open zones, the result is a vertical neighbourhood, one that strives to give the apartments the feeling of being houses-with-gardens. At the main entrance, part of the building projects out over the water to form a public balcony, occupied by a restaurant offering a panoramic view back across the waters of the river Y towards the old centre. This restores the lost character of the jetty, a 270-degree perspective. The qualities, quantities and positions of each of the neighbourhoods were presented to the participants in a series of meetings. To stop this process from getting out of economical control, an optimum division of dwelling sizes was set up conforming to a ‘Gaussian curve’, so that the potential cacophony of the meetings could be restrained by economical considerations. The building can be seen as the ‘frozen’ result of the negotiations and therefore as a mirror of the political and economic situation.

design: MVRDV Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Frans de Witte, Willem Timmer, Duzan Doepel Eline Strijkers and Bernd Felsinger
facilitairy office: Bureau Bouwkunde, Rotterdam
structure: Pieters Bouwtechniek, Haarlem
building physics: Cauberg Huygen, Rotterdam
client: RABO Vastgoed B.V. and Housing Cooperation De Principaal
project size: about 160 dwellings, business units, public facilities all together 19.500 sqm
photos: Hisao Suzuki