Masterplan AN

Competition Entry for "Open Fort 400" in Amsterdam North - The Netherlands - 2009

Open Fort 400 is an international architectural competition for the design of a new knowledge centre on the North-West banks of Amsterdam's river IJ. Organised by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) and the City of Amsterdam, the competition commemorates 400 years since the establishment of Fort Amsterdam in New Amsterdam (New York - 1609) by the Dutch trading company VOC. The objective of the brief is the formulation of a mixed-use programme with a strong cultural character and public responsibility within a prescribed building envelope. The competition site is located in the heart of a post-industrial area which is undergoing massive transformation

New Context

The discovery of the New World accelerated the perception of the planet as a vast limitless storehouse of resources and materials. Four centuries later as the limits of growth have become evident, a new strategic framework is being developed. The idea of endless exploration and territorial expansion has faded in favour of a search for sustainability. Military constructs designed for protection against outside enemies are evolving into strategies to address planetary degradation

Organic Market & Greenhouse / A part of the city

Access to quality fresh food has declined for some socio-economic groups. Younger generations are losing the connection with natural products and their origins. In this new context, fresh food, its production, distribution and consumption will play a fundamental role for the redefinition of our society. The proposal's main idea is to revert this post-industrial site into a place for the production and retail of organic food. To go back in time in order to move forward... The main public program is a permanent organic market. A city with a city. What public infrastructure has a stronger cultural character and public responsibility than a fresh food market? Some permanent market stalls, some regular points of sale, some special events... The patterns of movement will define the exact location of the trading areas. A flow of constant variations over a plane. A plane split in two levels, but always in contact with the river IJ. To produce part of the goods sold in the market, a greenhouse is located on the roof-top of the project. Not only will it be part of the production-distribution cycle but it will also have a symbolic presence and fulfil an educational and research role. The greenhouse is accessible to residents and workers as a community garden. A series of associated programs are juxtaposed with the market and greenhouse. These programs increase the density and reinforce each other. Cafes and restaurants can occupy part of the ground floor levels. Utilising the products of the greenhouse, these venues will reinforce the loop of production and distribution and help to communicate the benefits of local organic products

Conglomeration of Living & Working

The other levels of the building are dedicated to living and working. Avoiding the conventional stacking of residential levels above commercial offices, the proposal attempts to combine a mix of programs on all levels of the building, connected by a central circulation spine, a form of "elevated street". Such a forced adjacency provides opportunities for overlapping and possible "leakage" activities. A new interpretation of the home office concept. Working "from home" can have a new meaning. A real opportunity exists for working and living in very close environments but in physically different locations. The office space is located on the East side of the building. It has a visual and acoustic relationship with the street and existing industrial surroundings. A tenancy depth of 10m allows for full daylight, natural ventilation and extreme flexibility, from small studios to large floor areas. It is a reflection of the possibilities of the "networked" office model versus the anachronistic Taylorist model. These conditions are ideal for the establishment of a techno-park for environmental businesses and green start-up ventures. The residential component is located on the West side of the building with access to river and central Amsterdam views. Each apartment has an outdoor zone for small scale planting. The apartments are based on a modular design within a regular grid, allowing a flexible mix of types and sizes, from a 1 bedroom up to a 4 bedroom duplex. The open floor plans create a neutral, loft-like spacious feel. The building is a conglomeration of two thin buildings, two indistinguishable entities. The result is a restrained and unassuming volume with a material presence akin to the industrial typologies that defined the neighbourhood in the past and compatible with the large urban scale of the river IJ. Formal expression is limited and reserved for the public components of the project. It is only used as a device for creating visual accents and human scale

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