MVRDV and Space Encounters have won a competition to design a timber-hybrid residential tower in Amsterdam’s new Sluisbuurt neighborhood. The joint submission from the two Dutch architectural firms proposed a 22-story building with a wooden structure, energy-producing facade, and an abundance of greenery and communal spaces. Sluisbuurt is a high-density, mid- to high-rise community on Zeeburgereiland (an island on Amsterdam’s eastern side) that will comprise up to 5,500 homes. For the architects, “the project aims to set an example in an under-construction neighborhood that has sustainability and greenery as its core principles.”
The project is titled Nachteiland — “night island” in Dutch. (It is a reference to Dutch choreographer Rudi van Dantzig’s 1955 choreography of Nachteiland for the Dutch National Ballet — in addition, Sluisbuurt’s main street is named Rudi van Dantzigstraat.) In a bid to help with tackling Amsterdam’s need for more housing, the new building will provide a mix of 153 homes and retail spaces, including 60 units reserved for the mid-sector rental market, with an emphasis on apartments that cater to families. Nachteiland is composed of a series of blocks that “act like a collection of different neighborhoods.” Blocks are positioned side by side at ground level to form a plinth and then arranged vertically to create the tower.
Nachteiland is flanked by Rudi van Dantzigstraat on one side. Here, the plinth is made up of blocks rising from three to six stories, echoing the heights of neighboring buildings and providing double-height retail/cafe spaces. On the side of the building that faces onto a small park, the plinth is imagined as a series of townhouses. The design here incorporates a communal greenhouse and a green staircase that extends the greenery upwards to a first-floor courtyard.
The tower rises to a height of 70 meters (230 feet) with blocks increasing in size towards the top. Mid-sector rental properties are located in the lower half, with access to communal rooftop spaces on the plinth. MVRDV and Space Encounters included pergolas on these rooftop areas that support solar panels. On the tower’s facade, building-integrated photovoltaics combine solar energy production with greenery, ensuring Nachteiland will be energy positive — it is estimated that the building will produce “3.03 kilowatt hours per square meter per year more than it uses.” The building is constructed almost entirely with wood — the use of concrete is restricted to the tower’s structural core and columns up to the sixth floor level. Sixty-one percent of the building’s materials will be bio-based and 13 percent will be recycled. There is a clear emphasis on greenery and sustainability in Nachteiland’s design. Jacob van Rijs, founding partner of MVRDV, says: “This project is a demonstration that in addressing our housing crisis, sustainable design doesn’t need to be a ‘nice-to-have’ – it can be central to the design itself.”
The building’s east and west facades are designed to reference its location: from the east, with central Amsterdam as a backdrop, the tower has a more formal, urban air; from the west, looking towards smaller, low-rise homes and green fields, the tower is more segmented and embellished with greenery. Remarking on the tower’s “different faces from different perspectives,” Joost Baks, founding partner of Space Encounters, says: “It’s inspired by an art piece created by [Dutch painter and sculptor] Joost Baljeu in 1978 [Synthetische constructie F8-1B], which has the same quality. In this way, the view of the tower shifts between a sharp urban silhouette and a vertical green stepped landscape.”
Nachteiland size and program:
19,200 square meters (206,667 square feet), residential mixed-use.
MVRDV is working on a similar residential project in Montevideo, Uruguay. Read about this on Archello.