The area around the van Hasseltweg in Amsterdam Noord is to be developed, setting large urban scale projects amongst the existing small 'garden-village' housing estates. The planning activity is concentrated around the location of the new noord/zuidlijn metro station and the Albatros is the first of the projects to come on stream.
The most important challenge in designing the Albatros was reconciling the confrontation between the scales of the new large developments and that of the surrounding housing. In order that the building would not act as a huge barrier within the neighbourhood, it was decided to 'break it up' by dividing it into four tower-like fins arranged on a base or plinth.
This plinth contains all the commercial and community orientated services and is equal in height to the neighbouring structures. The 130 dwellings are housed in the four fins above. The internal layouts and the elevational treatment allow for different typologies to be stacked above each other. The fins also ensure that every dwelling has a corner aspect to make optimal use of the available views and daylight. The building as a whole has the appearance of a large scale sculpture.
At ground level, the entrances to the residential accommodation are designed as visual links between the street and the internal gardens. These links, combined with the relatively shallow depth of the plinth, allow sunlight to reach the north side of the building while simultaneously reducing the perception its overall length.
Communal moss and lichen gardens are planted between wooden terraces to the south of the building with openings in the ground allowing daylight to filter through to the garage below.. At night these areas are illuminated atmospherically by suspended coloured lamps. The corridors to the lift and the stairwells flank the gardens increasing their impact within the development.