Masterplan Sluisbuurt, Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a rich history of urban expansion. In recent years, much of this has been characterized by the development of large-scale urban living environments, due to the city’s increasing population and the accompanying demand for new housing stock. New developments in Sluisbuurt, on the western tip of Zeeburgereiland provide not only living, but also working and leisure functions as well.

A tabula rasa condition makes anything possible, but the development must refer to Amsterdam’s character. Having analyzed the city’s expansions in relation to successes and long term relevance, the development’s formal concept for is a refined perimeter building block and tower combination, in order to achieve a high density, work-live area. Reflecting on the centuries-long adaptation of the ring of Amsterdam to current conditions, and its large-scale success as a thriving  live-work area, the concept grafts these conditions onto this new urban Sluisbuurt form.

The reconfigured perimeter block key features include: a definitive structure and frame for public spaces, as well as an attendance to street-side adjacency and pedestrian life. By placing the building volume on the perimeter of the site, a clear line between public and private is drawn. The interior courtyards that this form accommodates have special atmospheres, providing a rich and additional layer of urban qualities chain-linked in a sequence of semi-interior outdoor “rooms.” The perimeter block itself is flexible in that at times it opens up to the city and at others, offers enclosure.

As an extension of the vibrant city of Amsterdam, Sluisbuurt must not be a sleeping village, but rather boast a dynamic working and living experience. As in the city centre, work program and residential program coexist in one form. A fresh mix of functions is maintained in order to ensure a vibrate street life. Dining, shopping and leisure program is integrated in this perimeter block with varying depths and tower heights. This accommodates a rich mix of functions, but also enables a range of commercial and residential typologies.

The scale of form proposed is comparable to the city centre’s canal houses. Small-scale entities sit side by side providing diversity within one continuous new urban block. The small profile maintains the perimeter block’s human scale while a flexible plinth at street level and set backs on the upper floors augment its form, providing both visual and urban diversity. Smaller scales in combination with high rises in one homogenous project, posit a new Amsterdam typology: a distinct form, but cloaked in the same urban fabric.

By beginning with the perimeter block, it is possible to execute development in stages: beginning with the smaller scale development and later adding additional parts. This way, a flexible and dynamic urban apparatus sets the stage for further development; first, the urban walls of the high road can be built, not in their entirety, but in sections. These interventions can also be temporary to later be replaced by buildings. The perimeter block is therefore flexible both in the long and short term, making space for kickstarter bars, restaurants, and sport clubs. Urban creatives will serve as the first wave of pioneers, enticing others to follow thereafter.

reference thumbnail: Agnes Martin ''Untitled number 3'', 2003

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