Generator Amsterdam

Gemma Norris
Wednesday 02 Nov 2016

Generator Amsterdam, the brand’s 10th location, Generator has upped its game, offering overnight guests and locals alike a new level of hostel experience.

A gateway to Amsterdam’s beautiful Oosterpark, Generator Amsterdam opens its doors to surroundings that include exotic birds, ancient willow trees and a whimsical children’s playground, as well as the Oost neighbourhood, the city’s hottest new destination for art, fashion and independent shops bars and restaurants.

Generator’s global design partner, DesignAgency has collaborated with local architects IDEA Ontwerp to both convert and restore a former health sciences building and zoological museum, and breathe new life into the hundred-year-old brick structure, establishing the most impressive Generator to date.

The 168-room hostel follows Generator’s trendsetting concept of great design and an array of spaces that encourage social interaction — all at an affordable price. Many of the building’s original, heritage-designated spaces have been preserved and overlaid with contemporary twists. The design confidently mixes the history and charm of the building with Dutch references from folk culture and iconic design, as well as custom contemporary art and the playful lighting that is synonymous with the Generator brand. Partnerships with local businesses such as local coffee vendor Stooker Roasting Company and Vanmoof Bicycles make the project stronger and more successfully integrated into its surroundings.

The partnership with various Dutch artists and designers in particular helped to drive the project to new creative heights. Blom & Blom collected, restored and redesigned hundreds of light fixtures, many from abandoned factories in East Germany, each of which riffs on the building’s new-old duality. Dutch-French muralist and graphic artist Pieter Ceizer painted witty slogans on the inside of the elevator shaft that upend the otherwise mundane experience of travelling between floors. His idea to do so inspired DesignAgency to install glass panes in the elevator cars. Amsterdam’s The Bright Side Gallery coordinated a team of additional artists, including Kamp Horst, Graphic Surgery, Hans van Bentem and Gino Bud Hoiting. Their sculptures, drawings and graphic interventions give each of their respective spaces strong visual identities, unique personalities and above all conversation starters.

According to DesignAgency principal, Anwar Mekhayech, “Generator Amsterdam grew from a process of getting to know the city, meeting people and discovering its existing hotel scene and lifestyle brands. We also explored the opportunities and limitations of the amazing historic building. More so than ever, collaborations with artists and locals were essential in helping us bring our aspirations to life. We hope that the joy and authenticity of this creative process will touch guests and locals, inspiring them to make their own Amsterdam discoveries.”

By day, the modern architectural addition, seen here from the Oosterpark side, recedes, becoming almost invisible. By night, the rooms softly glow like a beacon, signaling the property’s newfound energy, vitality and wit.

From the park entrance, both overnight and casual guests are encouraged to enter and explore via the original marble staircase and stained glass transom. They are greeted by ceramic-and-wood totems by local Dutch artist Hans van Bentem.

The design team restored original features such as the intricate interior brickwork, stained glass windows and terrazzo floors, then layered in lighting by Blom & Blom and contemporary elements such as Alt Deutsch wallpaper by Studio Job.

In the Nescio Café, abstracted frames of houses provide intimacy while also nodding to the locale’s proud architectural history. The herringbone floor tiles by 41zero42, rendered in vibrant colours, reference aerial views of tulip fields.

Inspired by the perennial pleasures of the out-of-doors, the early morning to late night café is a delightfully breezy space that opens to a park-side terrace. The bar area is completely constructed from the versatile Dutch tile system, Dtile.

At the apex of the building, the auditorium bar features preserved raked seating adorned with reading lamps and drinks trays. The auditorium’s original curtains were restored and returned to the space and their hues inspired the colours for the lounge furniture. In place of the lectern, a generous bar is presided over by the beer taps and a gleaming espresso machine. Its chalkboard backdrop presents the drinks menu, and raises to display the liquor bottles. Overhead, a signature chandelier by Blom & Blom dangles scientific flasks repurposed from the building.

Each room is accented by a Studio Job wallpaper feature wall. Premium private rooms feature blanket designs by local textile designer Mae Engelgeer, while grey and brass Anglepoise bedside lamps warm up the custom headboards.

Guest rooms are basic but comfortable, encouraging guests to take advantage of the shared social spaces. Each room is defined by its Studio Job wallpaper. Typical furnishings include W Chairs by Billiani and Offcut Stools by Tom Dixon, (a Generator staple) as well as Anglepoise lighting and Dtiled bathrooms.


DesignAgency is an award-winning Toronto based design consultancy. Established in 1998 by partners and long-time friends Allen Chan, Matt Davis and Anwar Mekhayech, the studio unites architectural, interior design, industrial design, branding and digital design expertise. With a local and international portfolio of projects working for leading companies, developers, restaurateurs, retailers and hoteliers, each client works directly with one or more of our partners, reflecting our belief that great design requires leadership, focus and commitment. Our success is rooted in our collaborative and consultative approach by which our multidisciplinary team of talented design professionals engage internally with the partners and clients to craft innovative, custom designed spaces that help elevate the consumer experience. We embrace the full spectrum of design typologies and remain open to innovative ideas, tech

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