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Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Netherlands Architecture News - Apr 16, 2024 - 12:30   1456 views

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Powerhouse Company, together with Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke & Ard de Vries ArchitectenTeam V ArchitectureJoppe Kusters, and DELVA Landscape Architecture | Urbanism, has won a competition to design an urban ensemble in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Called VrijHaven, the 43,088-square-metre district, developed by RED Company and Caransa Group, will incorporate the existing remnants of the site into a new urban ensemble. 

VrijHaven is known as a place for experimentation, and devoid of rigid boundaries, designed to allow space for the individual expression of its future users. 

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Image © Proloog

Havenstraat is a well-known fringe area in Amsterdam and has much to offer: a creative community in between old industrial remnants, historic trams, and informal greenery. 

"Fringe areas like this are essential for the city, which is why the design offers the opportunity for the current local businesses, creatives, and makers to have a space again in the new plan as they are a part of the area’s identity," said Powerhouse Company.

"Inspired by the free-spirited character of the Havenstraat, our team has crafted a distinctive ensemble. Combining the monumental plinth with expressive residential buildings not only allows for innovation but also preserves the intrinsic qualities of the area," said Thomas Ponds, Powerhouse Company.

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Image © Aesthetica Studio

When creatives collaborate

Described as a refined ensemble, each component of the crafted composition is designed through close collaboration with renowned architects, and each is aimed to contribute their unique and creative designs that consist of a vibrant plinth and expressive residential buildings. 

For example, Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke & Ard de Vries Architecten have created the Oerplint, a monumental plinth that draws significance from the site's original railway character, radiating abundance and timeless appeal. 

Functionally, the plinth recalls the activity of the Havenstraatterein’s second life, housing flexible studios, affordable maker spaces, restaurants, and cultural venues. It flanks the area, with the 'Kopblok' to the north and the ‘Tramloods' to the south, which will house a museum for historic trams. 

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Image © Aesthetica Studio

Atop is a public square, called "De Vrijplaats", which will be used for cultural programming. In between, the Oerplint stands as a timeless monumental element that serves as a stage for the blocks above. 

"The interaction between the plinth and the public space is essential for integration into the city. Due to the immense depth in the facade, the boundaries between city and building blur, making the plinth part of the urban fabric," said Donna van Milligen Bielke. 

An enticing family of twelve expressive housing blocks are designed by Powerhouse Company, Team V Architecture, and Joppe Kusters. The housing blocks are characterized by raw elegance comprising re-used and biobased facade materials, flexible plans, distinctive roofscapes, and small-scale circulation design. 

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Image © Proloog

The design stimulates meeting, individual expression, and a sense of community. In appearance, the building blocks are individually characteristic but collectively create a cohesive ensemble of buildings.

"We have been inspired by the unique character of Havenstraat to design a family of expressive residential buildings," said Joppe Kusters.

The housing ensemble and Oerplint are strongly connected by lush green courtyards, designed by DELVA. This is where neighbors meet, and children can play freely. An art route throughout the neighborhood forms an additional inspirational layer to the design. 

Where free spirits can live and create

VrijHaven keeps the characteristics of the Havenstraat and offers space to build a new community. Developers RED Company and Caransa Group provide affordable space for entrepreneurs and inhabitants. 

The plan includes housing for every age bracket – with extra focus on families and specific spaces for creatives. Instead of a strict boundary, the facades become a transitional space and the street drawn into the building, becoming part of the urban fabric. This transparency in the streetscape is crucial for interaction between people and programs. This design element invites residents and users to take ownership of the space. 

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Image © Aesthetica Studio

An energy haven

Embodying the sustainability ambitions of the team of architects and clients, VrijHaven will be an energy-efficient, healthy, and energy-supplying district and therefore ready for the energy transition. 

Combined with ambitious energy-saving methods, the project achieves impressive BENG scores and will become a true ‘energy haven’. 

By designing parametrically and in balance with spatial quality, the entire neighborhood will be connected to a smart grid to reduce energy costs, CO2 emissions, and grid congestion. VrijHaven minimizes environmental impact, employing wooden structures and reused materials in construction, turning it into a showcase of circularity and biobased innovation.

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Image © Aesthetica Studio

"We are incredibly proud to have the opportunity to transform this unique part of Amsterdam into VrijHaven. It is our mission to preserve the atmosphere of the Havenstraat area while creating a sustainable neighborhood. We are looking forward to working with this team of architects in close collaboration with the municipality of Amsterdam," said Nanne de Ru, RED Company.

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Image © Proloog

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Image © Proloog

Image © Powerhouse Company

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Karperweg sketch. Image © Monique Wijbrands

Powerhouse Company creates a refined and distinctive urban ensemble in Amsterdam

Havenstraat sketch. Image © Monique Wijbrands

Powerhouse Company completed the Marga Klompé Building, the "first mass-timber academic building of Europe" in Tilburg. The firm is also working on the transformation of a post-war church into a new music hub in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Project facts

Project title: VrijHaven

Architects: Powerhouse Company, Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke & Ard de Vries Architecten, Team V Architecture, Joppe Kusters, DELVA Landscape Architecture | Urbanism                       

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Client: RED Company, Caransa Groep

Size: 43,088 m2

Time span: 2023 - ongoing

Collaborators

Strategy & Concept: Tenderboost

Sustainability

Energy performance: Merosch, DGMR

Materialisation: Alba Concepts, Vlasman

Mobility: The Future Mobility Network

Parametric study: OMRT

Others

Programme & stakeholder management: STIPO

Constructor: Van Rossum

Contractor: Construction Company   

Water transport: De Omgevingsformule 

Cost consultant: Metron

Top image © Proloog

All images © Aesthetica Studio, Proloog, Powerhouse Company.

All drawings © Powerhouse Company.

> via Powerhouse Company

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