Located along an Amsterdam street famed for its high-end boutiques and design shops, the Brick Pixelation Façade by UNStudio embodies the intricate, crafted details of couture clothing with an exterior made from stainless steel brick and glass inlays. The façade is set within the traditional structural frame of an Amsterdam townhouse.
Two separate buildings were brought together to create a larger retail space and store frontage. At street level, the stainless steel bricks and inlays have a semi-transparent effect. At the second floor, a transition to traditional Dutch anthracite brickwork begins.
In order to determine the right bricks size, transparency and lighting, numerous mock-ups and studies were undertaken. Working with the standard size of a brick, the architects found that by tapering and softening the edges, a stainless steel brick takes on a refined and intricately detailed appearance. Glass inlays were then manually glued in. The individual stainless steel bricks are precisely mounted onto larger steel frames and then installed on-site. Cast in different sizes, a similar pattern to traditional brickwork is repeated on the upper floors. Operable glass windows behind the steel brick facades make cleaning and maintenance possible.
A residential entrance door located on the façade is made with the same stainless steel brick, but with an opaque glass inlay to ensure privacy at the entrance to the apartment above. A stainless steel door handle and doorbell were custom-designed.
A final accent comes with the white slanting window frames from the exterior to the interior.
UN Studio’s Ben van Berkel says of the project, ‘These neighbouring facade projects that we have designed for the P.C. Hooftstraat are principally concerned with contrasting and crafting the detail through scale and materiality. The design of the facade for 140-142 intentionally employs a more sober scale of detailing to its neighbour. At 140-142, steel bricks inlayed with glass are crafted to refine and compose the details, creating a contemporary interpretation of the traditional bricks found in Dutch townhouses. And while the windows of 138 span multiple floors and protrude outwards, those of 140-142 slant inwards and are brought back to the townhouse scale on the second floor.”