Amsterdam masterplan

Debra Pickrel
Wednesday 16 Jul 2008

Viñoly design dynamic urban composition

Rafael Viñoly Architects PC was invited to participate in the design of a 160,000 sq m mixed-use development in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, an ambitious urban regeneration project approximately halfway between the Amsterdam city center and Schiphol Airport. The master plan mandated a specific zoning envelope for each building, resulting in a traditional base, shaft, and crown structure of high-rise buildings, angled in plan to yield a more dynamic urban composition. The firm’s design sought to reinvent this tripartite building structure altogether, unifying the three tower volumes into one singular, dynamic composition through the use of an exterior stair and vertical aluminum mullions.

Subtracting a narrow, spiral volume from the building mass that animates each elevation, the exterior fire escape wraps the structure and enlivens the facades. This staircase provides a fair-weather alternative to the two elevator cores and creates exterior spaces that office workers can use as informal gathering spaces, or that can be programmed as small gardens and outdoor plazas.

Furthering a sense of unified mass, the building is clad from top to bottom with glass and clear anodized aluminum fins—materials with subdued reflective qualities that respond to even the subtlest atmospheric changes in the Dutch weather. As one moves around the building, the spacing of the vertical mullions appears to vary in density, yielding a dynamic, constantly changing image. The combined effect of the external staircase and the ever-changing building skin encourages perception of the building not as a composition of stacked planes but as a single sculptural element in perpetual motion.

Retail space, serviced independently from the main building, is located on the ground floor. An enclosed two-story patio, protected from the elements by a glass roof, brings daylight into the center of the building podium on the fourth and fifth floors.

The building was completed in the first quarter of 2005.

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