In the vast, luxurious and international business and finance district of Zuidas, Amsterdam, Dok Architects have built an outstanding residential complex that is home to 47 apartments. The design is impressive not only for its characteristic shape and modern sustainability concept – it also offers its residents a high quality of life.
Zuidas is Amsterdam’s finance district, and an internationally renowned business quarter. It is also rapidly gaining a reputation as a hub for research and education. The World Trade Center Amsterdam and the RAI Amsterdam exhibition and conference centre are both located here, rubbing shoulders with multinational biotech companies and the Vrije Universiteit – one of the biggest universities in the Netherlands. The historic city centre, Schiphol airport and Amsterdam Zuid train station are only a few minutes away on the underground metro system. And now, “Zuidasdok”, the most important active infrastructure project in the Netherlands, steps are being taken to improve the district’s connections and access even further.
The Zuidasdok project is also designed help bring different aspects of the district together and help it grow into a harmonious work, shopping and residential quarter. Zuidas has been a popular area to live in for some time – and not just because of its attractive location, either. The environmentally conscious urban planning and resident-oriented architecture has also been drawing a lot of attention in recent years. One example of this architecture is a new, 47-apartment complex commissioned by Zuidschans C.V., a partnership between project developer BPD and space and property developer AM. Known simply as “The George”, the new complex, which was completed in 2020, showcases a pioneering concept for increased sustainability and quality of life.
In many parts of the world, fast-growing towns and cities are facing the challenge of limited residential space. After all, it is not enough to simply provide living space – the construction plans also need to have sustainability as one of their central focuses. The George fulfils the requirements of an energy-efficient and resource-saving building on many levels. The half-pipe-shaped roof is clad entirely in solar panels, so in addition to the rainwater it collects to irrigate the greenery on the balconies, it can also store solar power, which is used to light the complex’s public spaces. In addition to this, the building’s ventilation system is equipped with heat recovery technology to minimise the complex’s primary energy consumption.
Health and quality of life were two of the key factors in architect Liesbeth van der Pol’s mind when she was designing The George. The concept for the south facade, which faces onto a canal, is particularly impressive, and each floor is set back a little further than the one below, allowing space for balconies and terraces and creating a tapering effect towards the top of the building. These areas are where The George quite literally opens up to the world – the large glass panels in each of the 47 luxury apartments can be opened up across their entire width, creating a seamless transition from the indoor areas to the terraces and balconies.
The open-air areas of the building have been turned into green spaces so that every one of the apartments can enjoy the benefits of vertical gardening and the improved air quality it brings. In total, the complex boasts more than 500 metres of unbroken greenery, the irrigation of which is managed by a computer-aided system built into the plant pots.
The bi-folding doors in all the apartments fulfil a desire for more space, more brightness and more transparency. The huge, moving building openings provide a seamless transition between the indoors and the outside. This makes the space a whole new experience, where the surroundings become part of the room itself. In order to help her realise her vision, the architect opted for the Highline system by Solarlux, the leading specialist in large-scale, moving building openings. The Highline, which has won numerous awards for its design and patented technology, was integrated into the building in a number of different ways in order to match the difference in the ground plans of the individual apartments.
However, there is one thing that all the complex’s bi-folding doors have in common: the ability to be opened up across the entire width of the balcony or terrace in question. Even when closed, the system provides maximum transparency thanks to slender sight lines of 99 mm in the panel butt joint. This way, the floor-to-ceiling glazing opens up entire walls, lets in plenty of daylight and offers spectacular views of the city.
All the terraces can be accessed via the thermally insulated Highline. The specially tested and certified system is more than a match for the unusual technical demands placed on it by the exposed location of the eleven-storey building, with outstanding air tightness, water tightness and wind load resistance ratings. The security of the large-scale glazing system is also guaranteed, as it comes with certified RC2 anti-burglary protection.
The bi-folding doors were made using functional triple glazing with a Ug value of 0.6 W/m²K. Together with the simple, natural ventilation options it offers, this means that the glass front also fits with The George’s energy concept.