Discover Benelux, Issue 68, August 2019

Page 26

De Silo’s rooftop.

Form follows people TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: TANK

Buildings are often designed to fit their expected function and agenda, but for Dutch architecture agency TANK, this feels like the wrong approach. “Ultimately, it’s the user who has to work, live or socialise in it, which is why in our projects, form follows people, not function,” founding partner Menno Kooistra explains. Together with interior designers Sanne Schenk and Tommy Kleerekoper, Kooistra founded TANK in 2014. As director, he heads the architecture and urban planning department. His architectural background lies in sustainability, which is still the central element in everything his team works on today. “Our approach is that environmental impact can only be realised if it’s focused on the user. The user needs to benefit from it before anything else,” says Kooistra. While efficient use of energy undoubtedly contributes to the environment, it also works because it’s cheaper for the user. 26  |  Issue 68  |  August 2019

The same goes for non-toxic building materials; better for the world, but it makes living conditions for the user safer, too. And then there’s user-friendliness. A sustainable home that is easy to navigate will inevitably lead to better climate control. By putting the user first, TANK designs buildings that are beneficial to individuals as well as society. In addition, they are unrestricted. Kooistra: “It’s our job to develop well functioning spaces, but it’s the user that decides what to do with it.”

Architecture as a product A good example of such a space is office turned housing development De Voortuinen (The Front Gardens), set to be built in the Amsterdam Westerpark area this year. While reusing the original building structure, the transformed exterior will offer a unique living experience that combines urban living with a sense of freedom and nature. Kooistra: “What’s so special about this design is that we moved the previously internal elevators to the outside, which

hasn’t just made the apartments bigger, but also lowered the building costs and so offers users better quality, for less money. What’s more, it will allow residents to enter their home through their very own 11th or 12th-floor garden.” The unique exterior of these apartments is perfectly reflected on the inside, too. “We wanted to create a place where anyone could live,” Kooistra explains. “The apartments are completely adaptable towards residents’ personal needs – whether they’re retirees, students looking for a house share or professionals seeking

De Silo’s design.