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De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Interior Photography, Dining room, Table, Chair, ColumnDe Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Exterior Photography, Waterfront, CityscapeDe Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Exterior Photography, Windows, FacadeDe Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Interior Photography, Facade, Windows+ 35

  • Partners In Charge : Kees Kaan, Vincent Panhuysen, Dikkie Scipio
  • Project Team : Rita Alessio, Andreas Alevras, Sebastiaan Buitenhuis, Timo Cardol, Alice Colombo, Paolo Faleschini, Michael Geensen, Joost Harteveld, Nicki van Loon, Hana Mohar, Jennifer Nam, Laura Ospina, Katarzyna Seweryn, Christian Sluijmer, Joeri Spijkers, Aldo Trim, Ziwei Zhu
  • Client : Maarsen Groep, Amsterdam
  • General Contractor  : Dura Vermeer Onderhoud en Renovatie Midden West
  • Structural Engineer : Pieters Bouwtechniek
  • Technical Installations : Huygen Installatie Adviseurs
  • Mechanical And Plumbing Engineers : Klimaatservice Holland
  • Building Physics + Acoustics : DGMR
  • Fire Safety Advisor : DGMR
  • Building Costs Consultant : Skaal
  • City : Amsterdam
  • Country : The Netherlands
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De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Exterior Photography, Waterfront, Cityscape
© Sebastian van Damme

Text description provided by the architects. In historical Amsterdam, the office building De Walvis on Bickerseiland has been stripped down to its bones and completely revitalised by KAAN Architecten. The client Maarsen Groep requested a "hip and industrial feel" that would leave everyone in awe and fit with their envisaged future tenants from the advertising, media, and tech sector. Confident interventions in the structure have resulted in a sleek and elegant sculptural form.

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Exterior Photography
© Sebastian van Damme
De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Image 21 of 35
Site plan
De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Exterior Photography, Windows, Facade
© Sebastian van Damme

De Walvis is a building with a history. It was part of Amsterdam's urbanisation project of the early 1960s, forced upon local residents despite their protests. Property developer F.H. Gaus announced that Bickerseiland would become a Little Manhattan. Ultimately, this became a turning point in municipal planning policies, shifting from upscaling to a community-based building. The current architectural manifestation has turned the building from an intruder into a pleasant neighbour. 

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Image 22 of 35
Ground floor plan

With circa 10,000 m2 gross floor area, De Walvis is a typical office building of the rationalist style that emerged in the 1950s-60s. It was designed by architect W.F. Lugthart (1921-1999), known mostly for his Diaconessenziekenhuis in Eindhoven, the first Dutch hospital built by 'stacking floors'. The neighbourhood did not consider De Walvis – ‘The Whale’ in Dutch, named after the old shipyard nearby – an improvement architecturally and sooner saw it as a threat to their community. 

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Interior Photography, Facade, Windows
© Sebastian van Damme

Inspired by the work of artist Donald Judd and drawing on their earlier work, KAAN Architecten has optically separated the floors of De Walvis. However, this strong horizontal emphasis is flexible on the interior since some openings have been left in the floors to potentially link them in the future. The floors now extend about a metre beyond the original building and consist of solid-looking dark bands that are actually light, hollow metal constructions.  

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Interior Photography, Windows, Facade, Column
© Dominique Panhuysen

Recessed bands of triple glazing further optimise the effect of 'floating' floors on each storey – the windows seem to go from floor to ceiling and have almost invisible vertical rebates. To avoid a sense of fragility, portholes have been incorporated into the glazing in a tight rhythm, at eye-level per floor, and all easily opened. These round pivot windows could be seen as a reference to the area's maritime history, though they also recall the pivot windows of the old building.

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Interior Photography
© Sebastian van Damme

The load-bearing structure of De Walvis dictated a rather meagre 3 metres per storey, which meant that the necessary technical facilities could not be hidden away in the floors and ceilings. By keeping each storey as open as possible, the building appears much lighter than before – and the big windows, the views over the neighbourhood, and the daylight pouring in help to achieve this lightness. This effect is heightened at night when the interior lights are on. Light, space, and sightlines – these were the seeds of the early design, alongside functional clarity and elegant facades.  

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Interior Photography, Dining room, Table, Chair, Column
© Dominique Panhuysen
De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Image 30 of 35
Section
De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Image 17 of 35
© Sebastian van Damme

Additional design decisions that radically impact the sense of spatiality include setting back the ground floor lobby, richly clad in marble and appearing to detach the building from its footing, and removing entirely the heavy entablature that previously pressed down on De Walvis, giving the building plumpness. 

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Image 20 of 35
© Sebastian van Damme
De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Interior Photography
© Sebastian van Damme

De Walvis is still a prominent building in its surroundings, though the high-density housing on the other side of Westerdok puts this into perspective. KAAN Architecten has introduced clear lines into the building: with the load-bearing columns mostly hidden within the envelope, the protruding floors are its most expressive facet. This horizontality is the soul of the structure. 

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Interior Photography, Living Room
© Sebastian van Damme

  The building's regeneration has been awarded the BREEAM Excellent certificate, an internationally recognised points-based rating system that scores the sustainability and minimal environmental impact of a building

De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten - Exterior Photography, Cityscape
© Sebastian van Damme

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Project location

Address:Grote Bickersstraat 74, 1013 KS Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "De Walvis Offices / KAAN Architecten" 08 Jun 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/963020/de-walvis-offices-kaan-architecten> ISSN 0719-8884
© Sebastian van Damme

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