by Devanshi ShahNov 18, 2021
Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck’s Tripolis office complex in Amsterdam is set to see a major renovation by MVRDV. The Netherlands-based firm has been commissioned by real estate developer Flow to revive the existing built fabric of the famed project and to introduce new additions to make it ‘commercially viable’.
Originally designed by van Eyck and his wife Hannie [van Eyck] in 1994, the complex comprises three timber and granite-clad polygonal blocks and characteristic aluminium windows in rainbow colours. It sits south of another of van Eyck’s masterpiece, the 1960-built Amsterdam Orphanage.
MVRDV’s key additions to the Tripolis complex include a new park and an 11-storey office block shaped along the site’s southern boundary. This 31,500 sqm ‘groundscraper’ is indented where it meets the existing buildings and its grid form has been adapted to the complex geometry of van Eyck’s architecture.
The new block is designed as a sound screen to protect the complex and future housing developments from the noise created by the adjacent A10 highway. The north façade of this block will bring a playful indentation on its upper-most area, while glass puncturing its lower storeys will reveal glimpses of the Tripolis buildings.
MVRDV’s design introduces an interior public route that offsets the old from the new. Here, glass walls, bridges and stairs are introduced to close the gap between the structures and to build a unified whole of the former and the new elements. “We literally echo Tripolis, as if it was imprinting the neighbours. The space between will be given a public dimension and will be accessible to passers-by. As a visionary in his time, Aldo already saw office spaces as meeting spaces. I want to continue that idea by promoting interaction between the two buildings in various ways,” explains MVRDV founding partner Winy Mass.
Retaining the industrial charm of the complex, the central staircase housed within each of the three clusters and the stone-clad floors are some of the features that will be retained in the development. The roofs of the buildings will be transformed into an activated green landscape where people inhabiting the office spaces can sit back and relax. One of the buildings within the complex will be transformed into an affordable rental apartment space in the later phase of the development.
The overall project - which comprises addition of an office block, renovation of two existing polygonal buildings as offices, residential spaces and alterations to the landscape - reveal the Tripolis complex as a futuristic mixed-use development.
The proposal’s aim has been to make the original project commercially successful, which since its construction in 1994 has struggled with low occupancy. Uber has already been signed as the building’s main tenant – the ridesharing company will occupy the lower floors of the new block. The project received Municipal Monument status in 2019, enshrining its position as part of the larger ensemble including the orphanage. The new development is scheduled for completion in 2022.