ArchitectsArchitectenbureau Marlies Rohmer
LocationAmsterdam, The Netherlands
Design TeamMarlies Rohmer, Floris Hund (deputy architect), Kirsten Gabriëls (assistant designer/coordinator), Gieneke Pieterse (project coordinator), Ido de Boer, Charles Hueber, Marie Louise Greger
The small scale charm and the varied buildings of the Bellamy Neighbourhood give it the atmosphere of a small village, embedded into the Amsterdam pericentral suburb of Oud-West. The urban structure of the neighbourhood follows old farming field boundaries from the 19th century. Living and working functions intermingle in the neighbourhood. The Houstma Site occupies a prominent location on a shipping canal, Kostverlorenvaart, and is named after the former Houtsma kitchen furniture factory.
The urban development brief for the Houtsma Site was the outcome of close consultation with local residents. The key concepts were functional mixing, a livelier atmosphere, better public safety and a varied programme of housing which would boost the social structure. A prominent building of up to five storeys was required at the corner of Bellamystraat and Wenslauerstraat, plus a section no more than two storeys tall on the side facing into the neighbourhood (so as not to impeded daylight and views). Locals coined the name “Neighbourhood Factory” for the new development.
It was a challenge for the designers to achieve a sublime synthesis of all the local residents specifications – a result that would be more than the sum of its parts. Emphatic articulation and height differences as prescribed in the urban design brief had to be combined with a building respecting the existing plot boundaries.
It had to harmonize with the characteristics of Bellamy but retain its “factory” typology, which harks back to the industrial past of the canal and is consistent with the busy little factories and other business premises dotted around in the small-scale fabric of Bellamy. At the same time, the resulting building had to be a contemporary icon which would not be out of place among the individualistic buildings flanking Kostverlorenvaart, such as the Wester Mosque across the canal.
The distinctive roof formation combines with articulation on a plot-by-plot basis to produce an uncontrived informality