This new house replaced a dilapidated workers cottage that was built around the turn of the century. It forms an infill house within a surprisingly irregular street – the conventional image of Amsterdam being one of homogeneity. This eclectic street quality was borne out of the historic conditions – the area was Amsterdam’s builders yard. A wide canal at the end of the street was used to bring materials into the city on large barges from the surrounding countryside and sea ports. These materials were then offloaded and stored in large warehouses. Plots of land were divided up along the polder where, gradually, the tradesmen built workshops with their living accommodation above. This gave a distinctive character to the street of non-uniform buildings built of relatively cheap materials.
Our proposal reinforces this atmosphere whilst referencing the townhouse typology of the centre of the city. A reflection of the neighbourhood becoming more ‘upscale’ – this area of Amsterdam is adopting some of the formality of the historic centre. In order to produce a design that responded to the updated scale of the area, local market conditions and to provide a contemporary family home, we had to undergo extensive negotiations with the local council to ensure an appropriate solution for the neighbourhood. The planning authority required the re-use of a brick facade and pitched gable profile. Bands of structural concrete and large window openings reference historic facade details from local workshops. 31/44 Architects led and managed the project from concept design through to completion for both the building fabric and interior. The project was completed in Spring 2015 and has featured in Dwell and Blueprint magazines.