Creating something out of nothing

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Two architecture firms design and build a small bar in Amsterdam using only materials bought from the Dutch version of ebay

Hundreds of architecture projects have been downsized or altogether cancelled with the global economic crisis but two ingenious design studios in The Netherlands have just completed a modest bar scheme which defies economic uncertainty. Bureau SLA and Overtreders W are the proud designers behind the Noorderparkbar project, a public bar which has been entirely constructed using building materials sourced via (a Dutch website similar to ebay).

The convoluted design process was defined by the gradual build-up of construction materials meaning that the design could only be compiled as the materials were purchased. Only upon arrival of the construction goods were the designers able to work out how they could be inserted into the final building and indeed if the materials were high enough quality to work with. Bureau SLA and Overtreders W were not only the architects behind the design but took on the role of initiators, fund-raisers (through a website for crowd-funding), traders and builders, to see the concept through to completion.

Now complete, the bar is an unassuming construction consisting of three stripped-down units originally intended for a temporary hospital. One of the units forms the central bar area with two restrooms to the side, while the other two frame the terrace. Internally, one of the ceilings sports a roof made out of a number of skylights whereas another unit has a façade entirely made out of reused windows. Coating the outside of the structure are charred wooden shutters which have been treated with the Japanese technique of shou sugi ban to increase the material’s strength.

Of the design/build process, the designers explain: “The first ‘marktplaats’ purchase was a second hand lorry, to enable all the materials to be collected from all over Holland. After that, the hospital units, 42 windows, a few thousand meters of wood, 55 litres of paint, 2 toilets, lots of ceramic tiles in white and green, and many more objects followed, most of it leftovers from do-it-yourself renovations. For example, the interior walls of the bar are made of wood that had been used to construct a huge transportation box for shipping a milk carton filling machine from China to The Netherlands and the wood for the shutters was bought from a bankrupted formwork factory.”

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