The mere fact that the gearwheel factory is still there, right in the old centre of Amsterdam, makes the building special. This warehouse from the early 20th century, with its sawtooth roof and brick walls overgrown with ivy, is like a green oasis in the city. The building has now been transformed by architect Ronald Janssen in cooperation with Donald Osborne Architect into twelve residences, in commission from real estate developer Buro Amsterdam.
The lofts, organized back to back, each have their own entrance from the street. Where once the loading and unloading doors stood are now large sliding gates made of perforated steel. The pattern of holes is inspired by old photographs of the factory interior; a different image is used for each gate. Behind these fences are sheltered loggias, which act as private front gardens where bicycles can be kept, and where the front doors are located.
Within, the height of the space is especially striking, as is the abundant natural light, which enters via the skylights. Their introverted character is the foremost quality of these homes—particularly in the busy city centre.
The design has a clear dichotomy. The entrance, WC, and technical functions are bundled in one zone, with the bedrooms and a roof terrace on the (new) first floor. The rest of the space remains a “factory” by leaving it open, with steel trusses—simply brushed clean—still visible. The unfinished interiors are filled in by the residents themselves; connections for bathroom and kitchen offer options for different arrangements.
On the exterior, as little as possible has been changed. In fact, there are only seven extra openings cut through the facade, in addition to the five existing doors. The vegetation has been removed from the masonry; in its place, large planters are now positioned in the street, while new roof sections have been planted with sedum. Windows that are no longer necessary have been evenly covered with cement, appearing like “scars” that keep the memory of the past alive.
Street: Nieuwe Ridderstraat 49 – 59 & Nieuwe Jonkerstraat 50 – 60
Client: Buro Amsterdam
Architect: Ronald Janssen Architects icw Donald Osborne Architect
Photographer: Luuk Kramer