Text description provided by the architects. Rhapsody in West is a residential development situated on a complex site next to Amsterdam’s busy peripheral highway, on the edge of the Kolenkit neighbourhood. Ten years ago this area was designated one of the most deprived in the Netherlands, and redevelopment was long overdue.
For a long time, the undeveloped site had an important neighbourhood function as a green space and meeting place. The difficult task of realizing an extensive development brief has been achieved through a unique collaboration between designers, builders, investors, city council, and local residents. The initiative for the redevelopment was taken by TANGRAM Architekten, urban planners Urban Sync, and artist collective Cascoland representing the neighbourhood. The ensemble offers a solution for numerous challenges, such as noise, pollution, energy conservation, water management, heat mitigation, community building, and social safety. It combines high density with plenty of space for green and water. Furthermore, it also still offers a meeting place for the neighbourhood.
To make the site habitable there are two ‘high back’ buildings that block the sound of the road. The residual noise is deflected by the rounded shapes of the blocks and partly absorbed by the facades and the abundance of greenery. Because there are no parallel surfaces, the sound cannot reverberate. The result is spectacular: the courtyard garden feels like a city oasis.
By making use of the height difference of the adjacent bridge, space is created to hide parking, storage, and a rainwater attenuation system. The open allotment garden creates 'air’ between the building blocks, making the complex an inviting place.
Cultivating a good relationship with the neighbourhood was crucial to the success of the project. This is why the former meeting place was reintroduced, as well as a greenhouse in the courtyard that serves as a central meeting point where events are organized. There are facilities such as a guest house and a commercial café and living room where people can eat, drink, work, or follow evening courses. Owner CBRE also offers extra amenities such as shared electric cars and bicycles and James service, run by “local heroes”.
Rhapsody is characterized by openness. Due to the layout of the blocks, there are always ‘eyes on the street’ from the apartments and a clear view of the public space. Five local community managers (four of whom live on-site) strengthen the contact between the residents and the surrounding neighbourhood. They take care of the overall living quality and organize activities. The housing project is very flexible in its design. Different layouts of the blocks are possible, with apartments ranging from 50 to 110 sqm or even larger, now and in the future. It takes into account the needs of (future) residents and retains value for a long period of time.
Noteworthy is the extremely good energy performance. The entire complex is an energy factory. The residents supply energy to the grid after deducting their own use. This is due to various measures, including a large number of photovoltaics on the roofs.