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29 June 2007

By Christoph Grafe

Can MVRDV's "see-through" housing transform Amsterdam West?

When Amsterdam developed its new neighbourhoods in the fifties and sixties, the extension on the west side of the city provided modern apartments for a population housed in cramped, substandard dwellings. The developments, which followed the general extension plan by Cor van Eesteren and his town planning department, epitomised the good intentions of post-war politicians and planners. Based on extensive studies of daylight, hygiene, building technique and housing typology, Amsterdam West is one of the largest and most consistent examples of functionalist planning after 1945.
Arranged around an artificial lake and a park, and featuring a series of smaller parks and playgrounds, many of them designed by Aldo van Eyck, the city extension came close to the ideals of “light, air and space” that the pre-war avant garde had sought to realise.
Unlike many projects of the period the Amsterdam scheme is neither suburb nor satellite town, but a relatively dense environment mostly made up of four-storey apartment blocks arranged in open configurations around green spaces. The sheer size of the development and the sober, almost didactic, quality of post-war modern architecture in Holland, is tangible in the appearance of the apartment blocks — a seemingly endless repetition of identical balconies, staircases, front doors and windows. Particularly when industrialised construction was established in earnest and building output reached its peak in the sixties, sobriety turned into monotony and relentlessness.
The initial inhabitants, with fresh memories of former accommodation in the old town and in 19th century neighbourhoods, did not seem to mind. However, when offered the opportunity of exchanging the flats for suburban houses with gardens in the 1970s, many of them voted with their feet and moved out of the area.
Their place was taken by new immigrant populations, mostly from Morocco and Turkey, and Amsterdam West underwent demographic changes of dramatic proportions. Currently the area has a population of about 140,000, comprising a dwindling number of ethnic Dutch — mostly aged, first-time tenants — and large immigrant families.
Today Amsterdam West is portrayed as an urban district in crisis. Public spaces are depicted as being dominated by gangs of young, petty criminals, while marginalised first-generation immigrants struggle with the realities of a market economy that has no use for them. Since it emerged that the assassin of filmmaker Theo van Gogh was a second-generation north African raised here, the garden city has been identified as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalists who recruit from the disaffected immigrant population. Cultural anthropologist Irene Cieraad sums up this perception of the district by describing it as a “prairie of social separation and isolation”.
Amsterdam’s politicians are understandably eager to counter the alarmist tone of media reports from the district, and to improve its image with the general public.
A large-scale campaign to demolish small social housing flats and replace them with urban apartments for more affluent inhabitants is part of the attempt to change the demographic structure in the hope that this might reverse the downward spiral of radicalisation and cultural isolation.
Complete overhaul
“The Parkrand building is one of the key projects in what is being branded the ‘metamorphosis’ of the area”

The response — a collaboration between housing associations, their newly established private development branches, established commercial developers, and local authorities — takes as its point of departure a complete overhaul of the existing building stock.
Under this strategy — which, after strong criticism from local tenants and a temporary slump in construction, may be moderated to include renovation projects — a number of schemes have been built as pilot projects, demonstrating how profoundly the entire area is to be transformed.
The Parkrand building, designed by MVRDV and interior designer Richard Hutten, is one of the key projects in what is being branded a “metamorphosis”. Situated between a park and a residential neighbourhood set for demolition, the 135m-long, 12-storey building dominates its surroundings through its sheer size. With 223 dwellings, 193 of which are at the higher end of the rental market, the Parkrand building introduces a type of tenant to the north-western periphery of Amsterdam West who had been virtually absent in the social housing units it replaces.
The choice of MVRDV — architect of a celebrated housing project with flats for the elderly less than a few kilometres from the present scheme, as well as the Dutch pavilion at the 2000 World Expo in Hanover, and the Silodam block in Amsterdam’s docklands — demonstrates the client’s intention and ambition: this is not just a building, it is a statement.

MVRDV’s track record in the Netherlands, Germany and Shanghai is mentioned explicitly in the brochure for potential tenants. Cooperation with an interior designer known from lifestyle magazines provides further evidence that this is an attempt to cash in on the media success of Dutch architecture and design in the last decade and a half.
The brochure also quotes Aaron Betsky, a former director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute and the author of False Flat: Why Dutch Design is So Good, who endorses the building as one that “clearly will put Dutch design on the map” and “will attract many architectural tourists”.
Meanwhile the task for the architect was, we are given to believe, more straightforward. MVRDV was to design a building, which, despite its size and overpowering presence, would not block the view from the adjacent neighbourhood to the park, and which would also afford a maximum number of flats a direct share of the vista of fully grown trees.
If one approaches the project from the park or from the extensive asphalt plane on the entrance side, it presents itself as a very large and thick slab, with facades clad in anthracite concrete panels, a grid of floor-to-ceiling windows, and balconies with glass balustrades. In this volume large holes — two facing the park, three on the other side — offer views into the interior of the block like oversized loggias for a garden party.
According to the architect, this layout is the outcome of a design process that initially considered the scheme as a series of towers on a plinth. This was abandoned in favour of a large, simple volume: an out-of-scale “manor house overlooking the park”.
“The ruthlessness of this solution represents the kind of bold gesture with which MVRDV established itself”

On closer examination the towers are still there, except that at the top they have been connected by a two-storey band of maisonettes, with the supporting structures crashing through the living rooms and open kitchens.
The ruthlessness of this solution, combined with the laconic planning of the dwellings, represents the kind of bold gesture with which MVRDV has successfully established itself, and which will undoubtedly attract the tourists Betsky is expecting. In its treatment of materials, as well as in the design of its interiors and collective open spaces, the Parkrand building is utterly different from the hippie-inspired aesthetic of earlier projects. If one enters the open-air space on the plinth, the first impression is one of strict visual control and exquisite whiteness.
The facades, clad in shiny, glazed bricks with lines in a diamond pattern across the surface, lend these spaces the surreal atmosphere of tall interiors lined with wallpaper. This includes the views of the park and the social housing, both of which appear as larger-than-life photographs, while the distance is enhanced by high glass balustrades that render the surroundings effectively intangible.
For the design of the loggias the architect and the interior designer have borrowed from the repertoire of hotels by Ian Schrager and Phillippe Starck. Trees are planted in giant silver plant pots, and the designated play area for children is furnished with white elephants and slides that sit on an artificial grass carpet.
These spaces are offered as areas for some sort of collective life, but they seem to invite a very restricted use. In the artist’s impressions, in any case, they are populated by men talking into mobile phones, and this would appear to be a more accurate representation of any future use than children climbing up the designer play equipment.
Overall the loggias confirm the comparison with hotel lobbies, and the rules for their appropriation are designed to keep them uncannily tidy. There will be no private plant pots to disturb the pristine emptiness and, of course, there will be no smoking.
Restricted use
What are tenants buying into? The plans of most of the apartments are generous, and this compensates for moving to an area with an image problem. The price they pay is that of being housed in what is essentially a vertical, gated community with strict rules, and with isolation from the immediate surroundings enforced by both the controlled access arrangements and the aestheticisation of the communal spaces.
Perhaps this will lure in the type of tenant the client wishes to attract, but a contribution to establishing meaningful relationships with the environment it is not. And for the inhabitants of the social housing next door — if they are allowed to remain — the intended connection with their park is reduced to catching the odd, admittedly beautifully framed, distant view of trees and sky behind an exclusive still life. Architectural photographers, however, will surely like this building.
Block party
- The 135m-long, 34m-high, 34m-deep building comprises 174 standard small housing units.
By splitting the programme into five towers, sandwiched between a first-floor deck housing the amenities and a two-storey roof of penthouses, an open and airy block is formed.
The first-floor deck is conceived as the central space for the inhabitants, the “living room” that has been stressed by soft furniture, decorative walls, ceiling and floor finishes, plants and chandeliers.

Fonte: bdonline
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Continuo a achar feio. Gosto do exterior. Da superficie exterior. Quando o arquitecto decide cortar e retirar blocos e dah aquela acabamento aos interiores faz-me lembrar os acabamentos da arquitectura bauhaus muito pobres. Este contraste apesar de ser interessante nao deixa de nao ser interessante a nivel vivencial e de arquitectura. Parece-me mais um objecto habitacional do que um lugar habitado. Parece-me a mim que este projecto, a maneira como ele foi concebido, ser uma mera brincadeira de cheio e vazios onde o arquitecto retira blocos de um grande bloco e resulta nisto. Uma operacao simples que claro deve ter sido complexa mas resulta num mero objecto. NUm brinquedo para as criancas brincarem...

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é mais um "Mirador" como o de madrid. Tenho curiosidade em ver as plantas. Se for como estou a pensar, mais uma vez todo este gesto ultra-moderno de criar um edifício com vãos enormes reflecte-se no interior através de plantas extremamente reductoras, espaços sem nenhum carácter. Esperemos que este não seja assim. Fico à espera de outros elementos

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+ elementos em http://www.archined.nl/oem/reportages/parkrand/parkrand-eng.html
Continuo a achar que formalmente resulta mt bem.
Em relação aos espaços tenho que concordar com o asimplemind. Do pouco que dá para ver, existem algumas soluções que padeceram em resultado da forma do projecto. Se repararem, principalmente nos 10 e 11pisos, os duplex têm duas escadas independentes dentro do mesmo apartamento... dado que o piso de baixo dos mesmos é dividido pela galeria... tenho algumas dúvidas em relação a isso, mas são opções de projecto, que só que as teve pode explicar..
Em relação à pele do edifício... consegue resultar melhor do que alguns que usam o tijolo cá em Portugal...ou seja são todos iguais, só muda a cor, e quando muda.
Considero o espaço destinado às crianças bastante interessante.. nas fotos + de perto não me parecem serralunga... são parecidos:)! Não me importava nada de ser criança com uma área como aquela para poder brincar.

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  • 6 months later...

MVRDV e Richard Hutten
Parkrand Building

MVRDV, são um grupo de jovens Holandeses, discípulos de Rem Koolhas, para este grupo a formula de desenho para enfrentar a complexidade é agora a distorção geométrica.
Outra constante no trabalho de este atelier Holandês é a investigação sobre temas urbanos relacionados com a alta densidade de população.

As suas obras erguem-se com base em dados politicos e económicos, É a realidade onde lhes toca actuar.

O edificio Parkrand de MVRDV e Richard Hutten em Amesterdão, são cinco torres construídas sobre uma cobertura em frente a um parque público e conectadas por uma espécie de “anel” dos pisos superiores, ao qual dá ao edificio uma imagem unificada em lugar de parecer cinco edifícios separados.

O projecto é considerado como edificio chave dentro da renovação urbana de Geuzeveld-Slotermeer. Situado entre um parque e um bairro residêncial, fixado já para demolição.

De 12 andares, este domina o seu entorno através da sua dimensão,assim com 223 habitações, das quais 193 estão no topo do mercado de locação, o edifício Parkrand introduz um tipo de inquilino ao noroeste da periferia de Amesterdão West, que havia sido praticamente ausente nas unidades de habitação social que substitui.

A concepção de um edifício, ao qual, apesar do seu tamanho e overpowering presença, não iria bloquear a visão do bairro adjacente ao parque, e que também oferece a um número máximo de apartamentos que têm uma relação directa com parte, tirando partido do panorama das árvores cultivadas no parque.

Neste volume de grandes buracos - dois em frente ao parque, três do outro lado - oferecem-nos vistas para o interior do quarteirão, através de plataformas para um jardim no seu interior.

De acordo com o arquiteto, esta disposição é o resultado de um longo processo de planeamento que inicialmente foi considerada a execução de uma série de torres, esta proposta foi abandonada em favor de um grande e simples volume: um fora-de-escala "casa senhorial com vista sobre o parque".

As árvores são plantadas em vasos de plantas gigantes de prata, e as designadas áreas de jogar para crianças estão decoradas com elegantes bancos brancos e escorregas, para que se possam sentar em um tapete relva artificial.

No seu tratamento de materiais, bem como na concepção dos seus espaços interiores e coletivos, o Parkrand edifício é totalmente diferente do hippie de inspiração estética dos projectos anteriores. Se uma entrada ao ar livre no espaço plinth, á primeira impressão é de um rigoroso controlo visual requintado e de brancura. As fachadas, folheadas e com brilhantes, vidros e tijolos com linhas em um diamante padrão em toda a sua superfície, “emprestam” a esses espaços uma atmosfera de alto requinte, com interiores forradas com papel de parede.

Ideia 1 - Cinco torres entre duas plataformas, a inferior com serviços e a superior com penthouses.

Ideia 2 - Um bloco de 135m x 34m x 34m que forma um pátio interior.

Ideia 3 - 174 apartamentos. Todos com distintas vistas para áreas verdes circundantes.

Ideia 4 - Unificar materialmente (ocultar as torres e a pltaforma para que apareça o bloco côncavo) e destingir o pátio interior com características próprias.

Ideia 5 - Pátio interior com plantas, mobiliário e finos encontros com o solo, muros e céu, convertendo-o em espaço central para os habitantes. Uma distinta concepção com áreas comuns.

Estes espaços são oferecidos como áreas para algum tipo de vida coletiva, mas eles parecem convidar um uso muito restrito.

Em impressões do artista, em qualquer caso, eles são preenchidos por homens a falar ao telémovel, e esta parece ser a forma mais precisa de representação de qualquer uso futuro deste espaço, do que as crianças a brincar.

Esta solução, combinada com o planeamento da laconic residências, representa o tipo de gesto ousado com o qual MVRDV conseguiu estabelecer-se, e que irá, sem dúvida, atrair os turistas.

Talvez este edificio seja uma atração, de modo a ser um espaço significativo para estabelecer relações com o meio ambiente.

Edição Construlink.com
Arq. Tânia Magda Santos

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Não é incrível tudo o que pode caber dentro de um lápis?...

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