In August 2013 the City of Amsterdam gave the go-ahead for the redevelopment of an old store room under one of their offices on Jodenbreestraat, in Amsterdam, into a multifunctional plaza.
This plan is part of the new flexible housing concept for their offices, which can be densified through realization of such plazas. CUBE was, after a closed competition, asked to develop this 5,705-square-foot plaza. According to the City of Amsterdam it had to become an attractive area with an extraordinary appearance.
The semi-public plaza can be used for working, collaborating, meeting, or eating and drinking the organic coffee, juices, and sandwiches from the bar. There is also the possibility for holding presentations and meetings. The more functional parts of the program are efficiently packaged in simple volumes in such a way that they form an open space for the plaza. The entrance area of the huge office building was redeveloped with a new reception desk and also added to plaza.
Although the fire separation in the building needed to be changed accordingly, the open connection between the entrance and the plaza was important to make the new addition really part of the whole building. In doing this we have added a space to the building with the peace and playfulness of a green park.
Large and diverse plant cages hang like a canopy between the real birch trunks. Along the large glass doors planters are hung to form a natural filter. On the walls a print of the shadows of the leaves was used, and the floor has a natural outside look: with its gray/brown tones. The consistent use of the colors white, brown, and green brings a certain calmness between the otherwise fairly randomly placed elements. This seemingly random placement of trees, plant cages, and furniture is in reality a precise positioning relative to the projector and the walking paths.
The volumes containing extra spaces that are wooden sheds between the trees have wooden slats of unequal thicknesses. The real plants in the hanging cages, which from the beginning were an essential part of the plan, ensure good air quality and a green experience. These plants also posed the biggest challenge to the design process. Initially we looked at an automatic watering system, but in the end we opted to hang them on 10 electric hoists that are normally just in theaters. Every 4 weeks they are lowered to be taken care of.
Sustainability and reuse was one of the key principles. We could reuse parts of the installations, and also for the furniture we went looking for used elements in the storage depots of the municipality.