Bureau B+B shared with us their project Mr. Visserplein, a temporary facility for a square in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Mr. Visserplein is one of the most discussed open spaces in the center of Amsterdam, a politically difficult and historically sensitive spot. The current square is the result of a large number of accidental interventions in the past. Little remains of the original urban fabric.
More images and architect’s description after the break.
The Mr. Visserplein is a large space. The entrances to the square are too wide, making the area seem to flow away. Coming from the city center, the square now appears to be the end of the center, with nothing interesting beyond. Tourists turn back here. The ones on their way to Amsterdam East experience the square as a barrier rather than a nice stop on the way to the lush and green Plantage neighborhood with Artis Zoo and the Hortus Botanicus.
This is unfortunate because it is a spot in the city with much history, a layering of time literally visible through the remaining underground world of the former subway. There are many important public buildings and schools around the square that do not use it at the moment. It’s a tough raw place, not sweet or dowdy. At Mr. Visserplein the history of urban interventions of the 70s failed, but this is certainly no reason to hide it completely.
Two robust steel structures are situated on either side of the tramway that crosses over the middle of the square. The shapes of the structures are a projection of the re-used subway still present underground. The treillages are covered with hanging plants. The two “tropical greenhouses’ are an exotic stop on the way to Plantage. The structures are held together by a garland of lighting embracing the treillages and the entrance to TunFun, a play area now situated in the old subway. All together a wink to the ’70s.
They demarcate the public space that at this moment seems to flow away. With a height of 8 and 17 meters (historical gutter height) they relate to the surrounding buildings of the square. In summer when the plantation of the treillages is in full leaf and bloom the square seems to disappear. The old historical situation, with a building on the Mr. Visserplein is slightly visible. In winter and autumn the two structures are lighter and more transparent. Then it is possible to look over the entire square again.
The enclosed areas inside the treillages are open to the public. Here is a coffee bar, a terrace, a ticket office for the surrounding museums and institutions and the entrance for Mac Bike (bike rental). They serve as a meeting place for students, as a rest area for tourists and visitors of the surrounding public buildings. The two vine-clad treillages will be used by the surrounding museums and institutions in promoting their institutions. Temporary installations, exhibitions of student work or a private viewing will take place in the interior of the treillages. With a sponsorship proposal for a temporary decoration or colorful vegetation of the treillages they act as “billboard” for the institution or the museum.