Small yet eye-catching
In an urban environment, small interventions can make a big difference. Some will not be noticed by residents. But other additions to the city, no matter how small, can have a considerable impact on the experience of an area. This proves to be the case with the modest buildings the drivers and conductors of the Amsterdam Transport Authority use at the final destination of tram lines. They provide restrooms, a cafeteria and in some cases office space for managers.
When it was announced that the Transport Authority planned to build a new service building in the parklike area near the Sloterplas (a city lake) at the end of tram line 7, residents expressed their worry it would spoil their wide, open and green view. The requirement therefore was to design a functional building that ingeniously blended with its surrounding, without interfering with the pleasurable experience of the urban space.
The best camouflage
In the design that architects ZJA made for the Amsterdam Transport Authority the choice for an as green as possible building was made in the literal sense of the word. The roof is covered with green sedum, its structure consists of wooden beams and the outside walls are vertical gardens, irrigated by means of a clever system built into the roof, using stored rainwater. In an area characterized by green lawns and trees along the lake no better camouflage is possible. Even viewed from the upper floors of the buildings, and for people passing the square this six by sixteen meters long building becomes a natural element of the urban scene, right next to the loop that enables the trams to reverse direction.
The roof and walls are planted with consideration for the dominant wind direction, seasons and average hours of sun, in order to keep an attractive and alternating cover all year round, with minimal maintenance.
Remarkable about the building is the rhythm of wooden vertical beams, that break up the regular pattern by doubling up a few times. It is a subtle hint to holiday cottages, chalets or rural buildings, and evokes a glimpse of outdoor life in the countryside.
Efficient, green and functional
In its original design the green Transport Authority buildings were conceived as a modular system, to be scaled up or down with a bigger cafeteria or more office space, but with the same facilities and the same look. This makes the adaptation to the different final destinations of trams and bus lines quite easy. Anticipating a future without fossil fuel, there is no connection to the natural gas network, but the building has a built-in ground coupled heat exchanger and has optimal insulation, resulting in an even lower use of energy than the old buildings that do use heating by gas.
From a distance the building might strike one as a volume of wood and green, but its interior provides the users with a bright and pleasant space, thanks to the windows that extend from floor to ceiling. Its construction is flexible to easily accommodate future changes. The result is a pleasant and functional place to take a break or have a meeting, that is designed and constructed to blend into the green environment as best as possible. The residents of the neighbourhood expressed their approval, and the building is now part of a local project for urban gardening.
Contractor: K. Dekker Bouw & Infra
Foto's: K. Dekker Bouw & Infra