The project transforms a malfunctioning site in the back of a train and metro station into its new prominent front connected to river waterfront. Transformation of existing 50's housing blocks and addition of a new superblock introduces a prototype of personal dwelling environment suitable for implementation into anonymous public space of a communication node.
The area of intervention is located adjacent to railway and metro station Amstel, and Amstel river waterfront in Amsterdam. The immediate vicinity of a major communication node and a scenic location at the waterfront potentially renders the site an iconic point on the map of Amsterdam and a missing culture and event hub of the district.
However, currently the public node coexists with a housing ensemble, resulting in a conflict of public and private domains. Due to a misfit urban and architectural solution, the housing ensemble does not withstand the pressure of the anonymous public space around it, turning the site into no man’s land where the dwelling environment loses capacity to accommodate personal footprint of its inhabitants, and neither public, nor private space can be used comfortably.
In reaction to those circumstances the design is focused on two main aspects:
1) Providing a solution for the site, that exploits its potential as a public node on the scale of the city, while resolving the conflict of public and private domains.
2) Introducing a prototype of personal dwelling environment suitable for implementation into highly anonymous urban environment of a public node.
The site is signalled as an important social gathering place by introduction of a dominant building volume visible from afar, which constitutes iconic character of the open space around it. Dwelling environment is elevated or enclosed within a perimeter block: safe from the pressure of anonymous public space. The open ground level is thus fully reserved for public domain. The site, which used to be the back side of Amstel station becomes its new entrance integrated with the waterfront.
1) Current situation: open housing ensemble
2) Transformation of the existing buildings into an enclosed perimeter block
3) Unconstrained public space, non–conflicting with the dwelling environment
4) Elevated dwelling environment, disconnected from the public space
Amstel waterfront consists of low–rise housing in the foreground and – south of the project site – high–rise office district dominating the background. The new ensemble conforms to this principle while visually uniting the waterfront by gradating the height of the background volumes.
PROTECTED DWELLING ENVIRONMENT
Anonymity of public space is a function of traffic intensity. Communication node is a special type of public space where anonymity level is the highest and inevitably overwhelms any personal space adjacent to it. Personal dwelling environment and a communication node can coexist harmoniously only if the two domains are disconnected – by either elevating the private space, or enclosing it within a perimeter.
In absence of access to space that can be made semi–public by the inhabitants, the need arises to incorporate that space within the project. Dwelling units are organised along elevated streets with access restricted to the public – a safe substitute for conventional public meeting space – where inhabitants are free to personalise their environment.
Each housing unit is three–stories high, adding another dimension to living and opening possibilities of inhabiting the space in many more ways than in a typical flat apartment. The 9 meters-high space is ready for inhabitant's modification.
Generous outdoor patio presents yet another opportunity for inhabitants to personalise their private environment.
Section of each dwelling unit can be adjusted by inhabitants to their own needs, using simple tools, prefabricated beams and flooring, that can be delivered by elevators from the building's storage in the basement.
The interior adjustments are visible through highly transparent, interactive facade, rendering each dwelling unit unique and personal.
The inhabitants can reposition facade's translucent panels at any time on their own, arranging the window openings and level of privacy according to their changing needs and current spatial setup of the interior.
The block is a sum of personalised units, unified into one entity by the framework of the open structure.
The new block has been designed as an open structure which can host a mixture of family houses, student housing and offices. The programme can be easily adjusted over time according to changing demands.
1) Empty structure
2) 40 family houses and 120 student units
3) 20 family houses, 60 student units, 7000m2 office space
Permeable ground level accommodates flexible spaces for public functions and events.
Plan of the empty structure: 3D truss floor structure houses all ducts and fittings necessary to flexibly install housing or office units.
Example of programme arrangement within the open structure: Family and student housing units along with shared terraces and workspaces.