Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Housing Borneo island in Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Marlies Rohmer Architects & Urbanists
September 18th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Marlies Rohmer Architects & Urbanists
Urban design In the Eastern Harbor Area, next to the KNSM and Java island lie Borneo and Sporenburg islands. West 8 (Adriaan Geuze) has created a very inspiring urban plan. The question for West 8 was how to create a water-city along the kilometers of 19th century harbor cays. West 8 did not solve this problem by attempting to subdue the scale with huge blocks, such as Jo Coenen has done on the KNSM island, nor by trying to reduce the scale by creating cross-canals, such as Sjoerd Soeters, but by repetition of a small scale.
This plan discovers new types, markets, and target groups with:
The location is bordered on one side by water (formerly the inner harbor) and on the other side by a street, the main connection to the island. The water side (view) is on the north, the street side is on the south, so both sides have their own quality. The houses are back to back and spread around two courtyards. The outside ring contains three story single-family houses . The inside ring – around the courtyard – is made of two story studio houses. These studio houses are raised somewhat due to the basement underneath containing storage compartments and parking places. The courtyards have their entrances on the street side. Through theses “gates” is given a glimpse of this hidden world with a village like quality. The buildings on the cay side are vertical and urban in character, being recognizable as individual houses. A street side façade of connected urban villas with a rhythmically formal exterior which, when seen together with other facades, is a reminder of the minimalist music from Philip Glass: rational and poetic at the same time.
On the courtyards there are only studio houses (type B). The client requested here that a like-minded group of occupants would be established, because a courtyard concerns an intimate form of coexistence. On the ground floor of these houses is large kitchen/living room, bathroom/toilet, and a bedroom; on the first floor a studio with a high ceiling and a large skylight. The difference in floor heights is switched here: it is lower below (bedroom and kitchen) where the parking garage underneath is slightly raised and higher above for the spacious studio. Through the studio the roof terrace is accessible. Some studio houses have a patio (with a cherry tree). These patios are visible from the courtyard (through two windows), so that once again there is a layering of spaces. The courtyards are tiled with a Spanish pattern in earth colors as a contrast to the exterior of the block. There is a linden tree in every courtyard. The one courtyard is furnished with a long planter with grass , the other with a series of planters, later to be filled with geraniums, rocks, etc.
The housing on the exterior (type A) has large, high kitchens on the street. This space can also function as a living room. The situating of such a function on the ground floor brings the streetscape to life. With the front double doors open (which can be opened in different ways) people can sit inside and on the street at the same time – a situation enjoyed frequently in the for example the Jordaan. On the first floor are the bedrooms and on the second and highest floor is a large space adjacent to a roof terrace which, if desired, can also function as a living room. Besides the majority of three to four room houses in the outside ring, there are also a few two and five room houses designed.
The facades on the exterior are made of brick with steel profiles, wood window frames and glass panels. This robust detailing refers to the former architecture of the harbor. The facades of the courtyards are clad in western red cedar and the studios with glass planks so that diffuse light enters. The façade has various springs and niches. This is also the case on the street side, but here the terraces are facing the street. The underside of brick is only one floor high with above a steel framework filled with wood and different sorts of glass ending as a privacy screen for the terraces. Viewed at a right angle, these ‘bird cages’ are transparent, but viewed from the street their density increases and the façade seems closed.
A small alley next to the adjacent block gives access to the storage boxes. The houses on the alley have windows and balconies so that again, as in the inner city of Amsterdam, the idea of a hidden world visible through a mysterious crack in the façade returns. This layering brings excitement and unpredictability, both important qualities for the city. On the other side of the complex is the entrance of the parking garage. All houses on the outside have three tall double-jointed ‘farm doors’ which can be opened in different ways.