To celebrate the bond between New York and Amsterdam, we don’t want a carbon copy of the typical New Yorkesque. Skyscrapers, as wedding cakes or clad in glass in steel, are already being built in Amsterdam’s Zuidas and on the banks of the IJ. They are in a way the mirror image of typical canal houses that have remained in downtown Manhattan. We wondered about something else that was typically New York that could find a place in Amsterdam without becoming a pastiche. Second only the the 1811 grid plan of Manhattan, the grandest project for New York must be the geodesic dome over the island conceived by Buckminster Fuller. Spanning the entire length of 42 street – about 2 mile – the dome would protect the city for polution. A kind of environmentalism avant la lettre blown up to absurd proportions. With Ducth modesty we could try to find some use for it in Amsterdam.
NEW YORK 5
The ‘Open Fort’ to be designed in Amsterdam to commemmorate the founding of New York 400 years ago gives us an opportunity for cultural exchange between the two cities. This is a project that will be elaborated on both sides of the Atlantic. It will allow an occasion for New York to return the favor to Amsterdam, which built the first architecture in the city that is now world famous for its ground-breaking architecture.
of the UN, or one of its agencies would fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunatlity, our preferred candidate UNESCO headquarters was ‘accidentally’ built in Paris. Under the auspicious eyes of Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, a team of international architects led by Marcel Breuer had already done an admirable job. But, what if we could imagine that the headquarters were located in Amsterdam? The city is surrounded by a unique UNESCO world heritage site: the Defence Line van Amsterdam, a fortification and inundation ring twenty miles across that intersects with the Beemster polder, also a world heritage site. The city itself has also nominated the histroric centre due to its creative genius. If all goes ahead, an invisible dome two miles wide will protect the city centre. Vis-a-vis these conservatory tendencies, Amsterdam is developing several dynamic urban areas, the largest of which are the Zuidas and the banks of the IJ. The latter sits directly opposite to the historic centre, deflating the urban pressure that would threaten the monumental character of the old city whilst creating possiblities for urban development, ensuring the vitality of the city as a whole. What better place is there to envisage our new UNESCO headquarters as a token of the entanglement of historic values and future development?
The banks of the IJ are under heavy development, gradually transforming from an industrial into a lively mixed-use area. Several pioneering cultural initiatives have already taken their place here. The new UNESCO headquarters will introduce a new international twist into the mix. To express the diversity of both the activities of the organisation and the cultures it deals with it is housed in five buildings of completely different architectures. Each building is situated on a rectangular plot, and is a maximum of 30m high. The sixth plot is kept empty, acting as a public square. The six plots are covered by a glass ‘Bucky cube’, creating unity in the architecture, gathering together the public space of the project with its buildings. It is an open fort, clearly enclosing the architecture and yet in its transparancy communicating the openness of the complex. And, as far as we are concerned, the open fort should also be built acAt the end of 42nd street lies the UN headquarcording to the principles of open source. Because ters, housed in a modernist building with many we won’t actually be designing the 5 buildings fathers that sits comfortably on the banks of the ourselves. Like the UNESCO in Paris, a team of East river. So, we wanted a counterpart for Amarchitects will work on the plan. The architects sterdam that would reflect the international ambiti- represent the next generation of New York Archions of the city and specifically the cultural aspirati- tects: young, ambitious and conceptually strong. ons of the site on the banks of the IJ. A subsidiary They are the New York 5.
NEW YORK 5 Ground Floor Plan
Ground Floor Plan
Reception / information desk
Office Floor Plan
Office Floor Plan
NEW YORK 5
On ‘paternalism’ New York, in its ever-increasing obsession with micro-managing people’s behaviors, can learn from Holland’s recently deceased engineer Hans Monderman. The radical traffic engineer fought against prescribing people’s behavior on the roads, by abolishing traffic control features (signs, curbs, etc) with the creation of what he called ‘Shared Space’, a space of negotiation between adults (i.e. drivers and pedestrians). Our project is an homage to Hans Monderman - by architecturally interpreting NYC’s tall buildings [elevator+ fire stair] as a vertical ‘shared space’ in an Amsterdam office building; a negotiation space between inter-floors and inter-buildings program. Proposal Occupying the 20% subtracted area from the building footprint; we propose an Elevator-Stair that travels vertically between floors along tracks that are embedded in the building’s wavy concrete façade. This space connects office floors vertically at the same time it connects laterally the two cores flanking the building from either side. In by itself, the elevator with its stepping floor can be used as a lounge or a projection/conference room. Scheduling the use of the space by different offices when needed, the ElevatorStair becomes part of the timesheet of a work day. The bookshop program re-interprets the ‘elevator pit’ by occupying the basement level and is overlooked from a bridge connecting the two lobbies above. Mirroring the vertically dynamic internal facade, the street facade is animated with a wavy motorized curtain system. Architecturally, the project rejuvenates the vertical aspiration of NY both to go higher and dig deeper, which stands in contrast with Holland’s troubled relationship with the water horizon. Socially, the Elevator-Stair offers a range of possible diagonal links among the buildings’ individuals that is totally depended on their free initiatives.
A BUREAUCRATIC LOOPHOLE The urban legacy of New York is often attributed to the verticality of the skyscraper and the horizontality of the grid. Yet despite their technological and organizational achievements, Manhattan’s greatest contribution to the discourse of the city is, unsurprisingly, bureaucratic in nature. The 1916 zoning code responded to the growth of buildings by instituting setbacks and a sky exposure plane. While the regulation was intended to serve the public welfare of the street it inadvertently created wedding cake islands, phallic enclaves of wealth. The proposed dome enclosure for the Open Fort site creates a unique interior urbanity for Amsterdam – one that locates the space of the ‘public’ within rather than beside the towers. In this new context New York’s zoning code can be reconsidered for the benefit of a block rather than the street. By exporting New York’s regulatory legacy to Amsterdam the wedding cake is inverted; the void figures of Manhattan’s skyline carving out the tower’s public core.
WORKac’s tower is conceived of as a solid, mirrored volume that literally “reflects” the surrounding Amsterdam context within its Manhattan-inspired environs. This volume is interrupted at three strategic points to create collective spaces for the building inhabitants. These angled cuts into the surface of the tower create space for: a terrace overlooking the other towers at the sixth floor, a flower garden at the third floor that can be seen from outside the building, and the gallery at the ground floor. The floors of the tower are completely cantilevered from the core, so the gallery space floats at waist-level with one angled wall lifting to allow access. This allows artwork or projections to be viewed on the walls while gallery-goers feet remain visible from outside. The skin is conceived of as continuous Mylar fil, made from recycled plastic, which is mirrored to the outside and transparent from within.
YONIC BLOCK Using the setback rules of the 1916 zoning code and the 20% available massing reduction, a public void is created -- an uninterrupted exterior space that enters into the building’s mass: a yonic response to New York’s phallic pedigree. This public lobby connects the street to the partially enclosed information booths that sit within the towers four structural feet. The façade reinforces the tower’s competing identities: A fixed glass curtain-wall sampled from a conventional New York tower and a literal flexible curtain of reflective gold beads that drapes the inverted wedding cake. While the rigid glass curtain-wall fronts the domes exterior, the soft supple curtain faces the tower’s public void.
New York City is not a neat or orderly place. The city is a chaotic jumble of construction barricades, fences, scaffolding and netting. These construction signifiers show a city that is in constant flux, while also leaving the indelible impression that the city is never finished. Our contribution evokes New York City’s urban landscape of construction systems. The Rope Tower is a “light” building. It appears to be incomplete while in fact it is the visual product of a truly “breathing” building. The Rope Tower is enclosed entirely in a rope net of variable density, allowing the building to be naturally ventilated into the atrium in warmer weather. It also provides for absorption of acoustic reverberation from the atrium, further absorption is provided with feltlined ceilings. The sustainable wool felt is also used for thermal shades that can be drawn in colder weather. In the open-air café below, the felt creates soft wall enclosures and “rock garden” furniture for lounging.