Text description provided by the architects. Tony Fretton Architects has completed a development of apartments for sale in the North harbor of Amsterdam (Overhoeks). Commissioned by ING Real Estate the 10,700 sqm building is situated in a masterplan by urban designer Ton Schaap and Geurst and Schulze Architekten bv. The building comprises 74 flats through 8 floors, over a basement car park. It occupies the Northern end of the site and forms a courtyard with a scheme by Alvaro Siza. The building is within close proximity to schemes by Jo Coenen, Mecanoo Architekten, Baneke van der Hoeven and Geurst and Schulze Architekten bv.
The building façade is rendered in Altenberger Travertin, which contains colored figures and occlusions, giving a dynamic appearance when viewed at a close range. The façade fenestration is uniform in size. The objective is to produce a calm façade on to which rhythms are produced from the alternation of square windows and rectangular French doors. Inspiration for this came from houses of the Dutch Golden Age, where an even distribution of tall windows in white plaster walls provided a particular illumination to the interiors. A major feature of the exterior of the building is the design of the balconies, which comprise a glass balustrade and a white concrete glass block floor. These elements provide opportunity for the public life of the inhabitants to be visible on the surface of what would otherwise be a sober building.
Tony Fretton Architects approach to the project was strongly informed by the practice’s design for two apartments in Groningen, completed 2001. In both schemes simple but strategic shaping of the building envelope makes propositions in urbanistic terms and provides spaces in which habitants can enjoy the city. Here occupants will benefit from views of the River IJ seen obliquely through the courtyard. The apartments vary in size from 90 sqm to 180 sqm, culminating in four apartments on the roof configured as pavilions with outlook in all four directions.
In formal terms, the scheme benefits from experience gained on the design of the Red House, Chelsea, where Tony Fretton Architects specified a single material throughout. In the new scheme, they designed a repertoire of window and stone in varying sizes, the pattern for which shifts from the main building to the upper recessed levels, and culminates in the glass pavilions on the seventh floor. It seems to Tony Fretton Architects that all of the best cities are made in this way; with a limited palette of materials deployed with functional, financial and aesthetic economy to produce buildings that provide elegant backgrounds, which on closer observation reveal individual formal identities.