Several months ago, Austrian firm Baumschlager Eberle Lochau ZT Gmbh completed the new Vodafone Headquarters in Amsterdam. With its raw concrete façade and twinkling windows the design of this commercial block makes a bold statement as part of the Oosterdokseiland development.
The design of the Vodafone Headquarters began with one stipulation of the brief: the inclusion of a semi-public zone. For Baumschlager Eberle this meant a statement arcade running along the street, clearly marking the new office building apart from its neighbours. Pedestrians and vehicles can pass under these angular arches, engaging with the new building.
Of the arcade, Baumschlager Eberle explains: “[The inclusion of semi-public space] naturally involves a loss of floor space but, if you ignore that, the requirement certainly makes sense. An element of this kind gives cohesion to the development as a whole. Cohesion was also an issue in the configuration of the property, because the widths of the facades are based on those of the typical canal houses in Amsterdam.”
References to traditional canal houses in the city can also be found in the tones of the window frames (green and beige) and the tall rectangular windows which flood the interior spaces with large volumes of natural light. Internally the building is decorated with neutral tones with a range of flexible spaces placed between the load-bearing façade and the access core.
At the summit of the building is a glass eclipse, highlighting the conference hall within. Of this crowning feature the architects state: “Restrained plasticity, the ability to produce an unfashionable facade and the introduction of minor irritations, such as the ellipse and the zigzag in the arcade, combine to produce an architectural whole that manifests itself in a quite elementary and permanent manner in its urban setting.”