- Project Architect: Volker Ulrich
- Architect: Jon Eseverri, Martijn Floris
- Project Leader: Matthijs Hesta
- Draughtsman: Ron Jansen
- Project Leader / Architectural Engineering: Josje Landman-Bollen
- Designer: Virginia Yoldi Saez
- Installations: Techniplan
- Structural Engineer: Van Rossum
- Fire: Veldweg
- City: Amsterdam
- Country: The Netherlands
Text description provided by the architects. Student Experience Minervahaven (SEM) is an urban activator in a changing dockland area of Amsterdam. SEM is designed to meet the growing demand for extended stay accommodation in the city by international students. The complex has a number of facilities specifically aimed at international students. Besides the almost 600 rooms, it provides a variety of functions: a coffee bar, a ‘laundry bar’, gym, lounge, study, conference and commercial spaces, and a light street-level bike facility. These functions are all located on the ground floor.
In this way, SEM offers a socially safe and enjoyable residential location and an informal environment in which students can easily make contact with one another. A half-sunken underground car park creates a split level and differentiates the collective spaces for the students. The combination of raw materials with the light touch of the meticulous details of the interior makes the residents feel at ease. The multifunctional plinth, orientated towards an accessible green inner garden, also contributes to the pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. The various functions grouped around this inner garden are visible. It is thus a place that invites the students to spend time there and to meet one another.
The former dock activities in the Minervahaven are gradually making way for a growing number of international media and fashion companies. SEM activates the neighbourhood with its functions and new users. Besides its sociological approach, the building is innovative in the field of sustainable energy. At the moment SEM is one of the most sustainable student complexes in Europe. The integral approach to sustainability won the BREEAM Excellent certificate.
Energy is generated by photovoltaic panels applied to the sides of the complex facing south, west, and east, leaving the roof free for the residents to use. Solarlab has custom-designed and produced panels that are fitted with a selective sheet of glass, level intelligence, and resiliency, as well as a non-glare surface that is self-cleaning to ensure long life and high efficiency. The Kromatix coating only reflects certain light frequencies, combining a high efficiency on the sides with a subtle and lively colour sensation.
The volume of SEM is square in shape and runs from the fourth to the ninth storey via staggered roof terraces. A large number of rooms on this site have a view of the adjacent water of the Minervahaven. The inner and outer rings of the building differ one story in height and are constructed with different materials. This nuance contributes to further differentiation of the volume.
Finally, the unusual roof landscape plays a large part in the appearance and use of SEM. A rooftop footpath connects gardens, sports facilities, and collective and private terraces with one another. With this roof, the complex gives the city extra collective and social space. As a whole, SEM is a multi-faceted building. It is a robust urban block, comfortable residential environment, and energy machine, but above all, it is something that brings together human, social and urban qualities.