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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Houtsma Site Live/Work Factory in Kostverlorenvaart, Amsterdam by Marlies Rohmer

March 24th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

The Bellamy Neighbourhood and the Housma Site

The small scale charm and the varied buildings of the Bellamy Neighbourhood give it the atmosphere of a small village, embedded into the Amsterdam pericentral suburb of Oud-West. The urban structure of the neighbourhood follows old farming field boundaries from the 19th century. Living and working functions intermingle in the neighbourhood. The Houstma Site occupies a prominent location on a shipping canal, Kostverlorenvaart, and is named after the former Houtsma kitchen furniture factory.

Houtsma Site Live/Work Factory - (c) Luuk Kramer

  • Brief: Building with mixed programme on Kostverlorenvaart: 26 residential units, business units, studios and a grand café.
  • Location: Baarsjes borough, Amsterdam
  • Client: Stadgenoot, Amsterdam
  • Architect: Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer
  • Design: Marlies Rohmer
  • Team: Floris Hund (deputy architect); Kirsten Gabriëls (assistant designer/coordinator) ; Gieneke Pieterse (project coordinator); Ido de Boer; Charles Hueber; Marie Louise Greger
  • Structural engineer: Constructiebureau Tentij BV, Heemskerk
  • Services engineer: Installatieadviseurs Wolf + Dikken, Wateringen
  • Contractor: Aannemingsbedrijf F.W. Onrust bv., Zaandam / Ballast Nedam Noord-West
  • Design: 2004
  • Completion: 2010
  • Floor area/ contract price: GFA: 6,260 m² / € 4,920,000 excl. VAT, including building services.

(c) Luuk Kramer

The urban development brief for the Houtsma Site was the outcome of close consultation with local residents. The key concepts were functional mixing, a livelier atmosphere, better public safety and a varied programme of housing which would boost the social structure. A prominent building of up to five storeys was required at the corner of Bellamystraat and Wenslauerstraat, plus a section no more than two storeys tall on the side facing into the neighbourhood (so as not to impeded daylight and views). Locals coined the name “Neighbourhood Factory” for the new development.

Photo by Luuk Kramer

It was a challenge for the designers to achieve a sublime synthesis of all the local residents specifications – a result that would be more than the sum of its parts. Emphatic articulation and height differences as prescribed in the urban design brief had to be combined with a building respecting the existing plot boundaries. It had to harmonize with the characteristics of Bellamy but retain its “factory” typology, which harks back to the industrial past of the canal and is consistent with the busy little factories and other business premises dotted around in the small-scale fabric of Bellamy. At the same time, the resulting building had to be a contemporary icon which would not be out of place among the individualistic buildings flanking Kostverlorenvaart, such as the Wester Mosque across the canal.

Concertina windows instantly transform indoors to outdoors - Photo by Luuk Kramer

Mixed programme

1. Grand Café
2. Studio
3. Youth work centre
4. Business space
5. Dwelling

The building mass consists of two five-storey tall volumes aligned to Bellamystraat and Wenslauerstraat, enclosing three little factory halls each of two storeys. The small volumes house public-oriented functions such as small-scale industry, artists’ studios, a youth work centre and – at the extremity of the building – a grand café that looks out across the canal. Windows and shutters are all openable, and combined with the wide footpath this produces an inviting atmosphere in which indoors and outdoors appear to mingle. The plot-based articulation generates triangular semipublic front areas which the users can annex for various purposes, so creating lively locales which will be a long term contribution to the urban fabric. The building basement includes an underground car park which is accessible from Tweede Kostverlorenkade.

Photo by Luuk Kramer


All dwellings above ground floor level enjoy a view of the canal. The design uses a central corridor to make this possible. The dwellings differ in type, size and orientation. There are one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, ten sheltered living units (WIBO) with a meeting room, and a penthouse with a roof terrace. The maisonettes (type A) profit maximally from a view in two directions. The apartments (type B) have been made as wide as possible, and are suitable for senior residents. The volume on Wenslauerstraat contains staircase-access dwellings plus one “super apartment” on each floor. The top super apartment has a huge roof terrace. All the units have concertina glass windows which can be folded open across the full facade width. The emergency staircase at the extremity of the block is oversized and functions as a communal terrace.

Photo by Luuk Kramer


The white polyester-concrete panels, the large roof units and the steel emergency staircase give the building a factory look. By giving all parts of the building the same colour, the design produces a calm, robust whole. The polyester-concrete panels are resistant to fouling and are easily hosed clean. The building’s industrial character helps blend it with the neighbourhood by referencing the past and so anchoring it into its context. The aluminium slats in the facade give the plinth a layered character and provide security for the industrial spaces in a natural-seeming way. Opening the slat shutters combines the indoor and outdoor space and engenders an open, inviting atmosphere. The roof peaks, clad in the same material as the slatted shutters, are designed to integrate the pipes that emerge onto the roof rather than leaving them exposed as though an afterthought. The size and spacing of the roof peaks produces an unmistakable rhythm in the design. Not all the roofs of the industrial sheds contain building services. They leave room for a future air-conditioning system, thereby adding to the flexibility of the layout. Each of the residential units is marked by large concertina windows which when fully opened unite the interior with the outdoor space.

Photo by Luuk Kramer


Photo by Luuk Kramer

(c) Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

(c) Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

(c) Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

The distinctive roof formation combines with articulation on a plot-by-plot basis to produce an uncontrived informality (c) Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

(c) Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

(c) Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer



Ist Floor Plan

3rd Floor Plan

Floor plan

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Categories: Factory, Mixed use

One Response to “Houtsma Site Live/Work Factory in Kostverlorenvaart, Amsterdam by Marlies Rohmer”

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