A warehouse for living
IJburg Blok 4
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Client: Waterstad 1 Consortium
Programme: 63 apartments, 270 m2 café
IJburg is a large city extension plan of 7000 dwellings on the eastern fringe of Amsterdam. It is another phase in the reinvention of the IJ-river as a focus for a newly enlarged city. The IJ-river was historically the main entrance route to Amsterdam and to the inner harbours, but over the centuries the city lost its relationship to the river, eventually turning its back on the waterfront. The eastern parts, closer to the historical city, successfully established the desired water-related city extension and this success encouraged further developments to the west of the city such as Westerdokseiland, Houthavens and the large-scale plan of IJburg.
The project is the culmination of investigations that started with the Lux Building (1995) and developed through, among others, the Westerdokseiland plan (1997) and the essay ‘Adaptability’ (see a+t 12, 1998). This essay proposed a concept for a ‘trans-functional and multifunctional building that could allow the possibility of changing use; living into working, working into leisure or be a container of several uses simultaneously’. The dimensions, mass and character of the building are known. Amsterdam had many and still has a few, such buildings in the form of warehouses. Some are still in use; others have been converted to apartment buildings. Aspects of the building may seem familiar but the warehouse analogy is only useful in considering the wider context. This is not a warehouse; it has an abundance of glazed openings on the elevations and large balconies to the water and the south with awnings and blinds for solar control. It expresses activity: either living, working or both. Units are typically 7.5m wide, 25m deep and have a floor to ceiling height of 3.2m. Each unit is entered at ground level and has a central void bringing light into the middle of the deep plan.
2004 RIBA Europe Award