The client wished to establish a powerful and clearly identifiable image of the Bank’s presence and to create a discreet “trademark” structure to be used for the client’s international publicity and would also contribute to the local urban logic by incorporating the historic Berlage axis along the Minervalaan District.
The building needed to be energy-efficient and environmentally sound, as well as address a responsible corporation’s requirement to provide a flexible and healthy work environment amenable to the wellbeing and productivity of its employees.
The design not only provides the client with a dynamic group of beautiful buildings, and the arresting image of the gently faceted sheer tower but also offers to the city a compelling blueprint for development in the Buitenveldert district that is as responsive to the important legacy of urban planning in Amsterdam-Zuid as it is sensitive to the needs of workers and residents. The site plan is fundamental to the conception and evokes without nostalgia, the configuration of irrigation fields and the memory of rural experience. The medium of water and its reflection of the Dutch light permeate the project- from the site to the shaping of the architectural forms, to the choice of materials.
This project, notwithstanding the fact that it is sheathed entirely in glass meets the objective of environmental sustainability by the integration of concepts, materials and technology and takes into consideration the process of manufacture of materials utilized, the process of construction and the operating life the building.
The building, in response to the legislative mandate regarding worker proximity to daylight and within height limitations, would produce a thin slab of such a length as to be impracticable.
Our solution, to turn this same length into a circle, cuts circulation distances in half, without additional skin.
By capping the cylinder, an interior court/atrium is created and suddenly only one side of the building is exposed to the exterior climate and wind. The atrium’s purpose is to inspire a sense of community, to convey like a medieval cloister, the idea of a collegiate body gathered around a central court.
Because this cap is at floor eighteen, it presents a terrace opportunity for collective spaces, dining, meeting rooms at this level. The glass atrium floor will function as a light-sensitive instrument, refracting and reflecting up into the different parts of the volume. Its temperature moderated, in winter, by the building surface. In warm weather, a chimney effect initiates warm air exhaustion from vents at terrace level and induces a natural draft from wall vents and operable glass doors.
On the exterior, an air- insulating wall is created by two layers of glass with an airspace of 75cm. The glass is a combination of clear, etched and patterned, located with relationship to chair rail, furniture, room function, and sun shading. The two glass walls are stiffened by being structurally linked, both vertically and horizontally by slabs of glass, reflective coated or patterned, located with relation to their structural and shading functions.
Because the design allows a high level of day lighting even in summer in addition to allowing the sun’s warming effect in winter, energy costs would be significantly reduced.
The resulting building is to provide a healthier, light-filled workplace in which there is an awareness of nature, its sights and fragrances, a connection to the changes in a day or season, in contrast to the typical sealed office environment.
The overall achievement of a highly flexible building, such as this, incorporating these environmentally driven concerns, is less a matter of money and more a matter of the will to examine the design process from a new perspective.
1994 CATALOGOS DE ARCHITECTURA
1995 CONTEMPORANEA SPECIAL ISSUE
1995 MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK
1996 KOREAN ARCHITECTS