Bouwen in Amsterdam – Europan ‘14

"We miss generous spaces in modern architecture; there is too much focus on efficiency. Quality cannot be expressed in gross/net floor areas, how spaces are proportioned is much more important.
Our competition entry is an investigation in how to build a new piece of city where the streets and the buildings can really come alive as they change over time. Rather than building on an image we propose to focus on generous, well-proportioned indoor and outdoor spaces that allow for changes in use and shifts in the degree to which they are either public or private.

In our proposal we literally sample the proportions of the Amsterdam canal houses. We sample the deep plan, the section with the variation in floor heights, the patterns of window openings, the light wells and the way the buildings meet the street. To meet today’s quality standards and to make everything extra flexible we propose to use a modern post and beam structure on an 8.1 x 8.1 meter grid.

Canal houses have interior spaces that vary in width, depth and height and this giving them a timeless quality beyond their function. The vertical windows help in defining the character and experience of the canal house. With modern building methods we can recreate these qualities but it doesn’t make sense to replicate all the classical details that were made in a time when everything was handmade. Therefore we propose to sample only those aspects of the canal houses that make sense in our time and use them as a the brief for a modern architecture.

By placing a large portion of the volume in slender towers we keep the public realm spacious with street profiles that are not too narrow and dark. The lower 3 to 5 floors maintain a close relationship to the street and to the private gardens in the courtyard and on the roofscape. The towers all have beautiful views overlooking the green roofs and towards the city of Amsterdam and beyond.

An important aspect of the canal house is the interface between the interior and the street which is carefully negotiated. Subtle level differences between the street and the ground floor in combination with facades that are not too open keep the public and the private atmospheres at a comfortable distance. If a public space is too explicitly residential it rules out the possibility of becoming anything else. Our competition entry uses time tested architectural typologies in to create a piece of city that avoids overly prescribing the way it will be used in the future."

jaar: 2017
type: prijsvraag, winner 'runner-up' award
opdrachtgever Europan 14
samenwerking: Reinier Suurenbroek