Studio Thonik

Studio Thonik

Architect
MVRDV
Location
Amsterdam, The Netherlands | View Map
Project Year
2001
Category
Offices
Rob ‘t Hart

Studio Thonik

MVRDV as Architects

In an inner court of an Amsterdam Block, hidden from the outside world, the owners, graphic designers, wanted a house, but were only allowed to make an office. The client also had a strong desire for a building that would obtain national attention, so that in the slip stream also the design office would obtain attention, but for a small budget.


It was possible to achieve this by making a simple two layer box, constructed out of thick blocks, that avoided isolation layers and that could easily be built. Upstairs a spatial series of declining heights lead to a terrace. Downstairs the height inclines towards the garden. By cladding the complete building (the walls, floors, fences, mailbox, ping pong table, benches, pool, mullions) with an orange polyurethane coating, a remarkable, recognizable building appeared that drew attention to the graphic design office. Architecture as a true advertiser!


It led immediately to attention. The building started to be used as a background for advertisements. But at the same time some of the neighbors started to complain about unlivable circumstances caused by the bright orange color. It led to national media attention. It was reduced to those who found it aggressive versus those who found it cheerful and gay. It was amazing that a color of one house can lead to such attention: architecture works! The building got the attention the client wanted.


In 2005 Studio Thonik was painted green after many complaints. In order to solve this neighborhood quarrel, the city of Amsterdam upgraded the non-residential zone in which the building is situated to a working and living area in exchange for a new color which allowed the owners to move in.


But when the first orange colors began to appear, some surrounding neighbors started to complain. The orange color would lead to unlivable circumstances. A photographer complained that the color made it impossible to judge his black and white pictures.


The owners got national television attention. It was reduced to those who found it aggressive versus those that found it cheerful and gay. The neighbors brought it to court. After two court cases, the judge suggested a compromise.


In a dialogue, the municipality decided to pay half the cost of repainting of the house (green) and that the owner would pay the rest, if the owner would be happy with an official living permission (a permit). One can say that architecture has created for the client his final goal: a living permit! Yes, architecture works. It is a tool!


Inner city courtyards can contain concealed surprises, varying from beautiful gardens to massive halls and sheds.


In this Amsterdam courtyard along a dead-end street, there were a certain number of separate volumes of different types and age. In this unsuspecting context a simple two layer volume was added to this composition of constructions.

 

The volume is wrapped by an orange polyurethane coating, a material that merges the volume into a homogeneous building without details. Bright orange, the color of the facade is a favorite color from the palette of the users, Studio Thonik, graphic designers.


PS:

In 2005 Studio Thonik was painted green after many complaints from the neighbors who could not stand the bright orange color. In order to solve this neighborhood quarrel, the city of Amsterdam upgraded the non-residential zone in which the building is situated to a working and living area in exchange for a new color which allowed the owners to move in.

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