Discover Benelux | Issue 11 | November 2014

Page 35

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Discover Benelux |  Special Theme |  Dutch Architecture & Interiors

OPPOSITE PAGE: New commercial building at the Nieuwendijk. TOP LEFT: Renovated exterior of the national monument Concertgebouwplein 20. RIGHT: Transformation of the central hall inside the luxury office building at Concertgebouwplein 20. LEFT: Transformation of a shopping and office building at the Damrak. BELOW RIGHT: Lot P15 with an intense mix of office space, homes and amenities.

what makes the future of our cities so exciting,” he continues. With the contours of today’s shopping experience becoming even steeper, Rijnboutt recognises the demand for shops to keep pace. “You see more and more flagship stores; the shops are showrooms for the products, and customers are flocking there for the atmosphere – not necessarily for the shopping. Linking the myriad of shopping experiences with that of the historical city centre can be very rewarding.” with the New York-based Robert Stern Architects. The 21,000m2 former C&A headquarters are being transformed into the ultimate modern retail experience while still maintaining the historical ambiance. “Our ambition,” interjects Vermeesch, “is always to design a building that fits. While drawing in customers through the aesthetics of the architecture is vital in the retail world, balancing the pre-existing context with what you’re creating is key.” What emerges is the interesting notion of a balancing act, continues Van der Vossen. “Surrounded by history, the new builds have to stand in harmony. We want people to have the impression that the city’s DNA is untouched with the new buildings. That’s

An innovating look at office space With office buildings on the agenda, Vermeesch is back on the line. “Natural light couldn’t be more important in the Netherlands today. So with our renovation of Herengracht 595, now known as The Bank, a retail and restaurant complex with offices above, we had to focus on allowing light in. By building a spacious and airy atrium, we sacrificed floor space but in doing so we greatly enhanced the natural light bestowed on each office space.” The design has since been very well received, with many reputable establishments clamouring to claim ground floor space. It is also worth mentioning the historical building’s now glaringly green credentials, making it the city’s most

sustainable national monument with its own thermal storage for heating and cooling; highly efficient insulation; daylight-dependent lighting and automatic blinds. Spatially aware of the city, Rijnboutt is in an invaluable position for overseas investors looking to develop within Amsterdam. Armed with their collective experience of resolving building constraints, bureaucratic issues and winning over the city’s officials, they’ve experienced a rush of interest over the last few years from international developers who have recognised their unparalleled ability to hold open dialogues as part of the design process.

Issue 11 |  November 2014 |  35