UNStudio renovates P.C. Hooftstraat 138’s facade in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

UNStudio’s design for ‘The Looking Glass’ mimics the motion of a billowing transparent fabric in its curved, jutting glass boxes that adorn its brick façade.

by Jincy Iype Published on : Dec 24, 2019

One of the most sophisticated shopping streets in Europe, the renowned P.C. Hooftstraat in Amsterdam hosts high-end boutiques, flagship stores and retail shops of leading Dutch and international designers, all representative of Dutch design and creative heritage. Recently, the Dutch architectural practise UNStudio completed the renovation of the façade of P.C. Hooftstraat 138, dubbed ‘The Looking Glass’, with its design features inspired by nearby museums that house Dutch art, and represent a harmonious union of function and aesthetics.

  • Renovation of the façade of P.C. Hooftstraat 138, Amsterdam | P.C. Hooftstraat 138 | UNStudio | STIRworld
    Renovation of the façade of P.C. Hooftstraat 138, Amsterdam Image Credit: Evabloem
  • The two major materials used in the design are brick and glass | P.C. Hooftstraat 138 | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The two major materials used in the design are brick and glass Image Credit: Evabloem

Located amid the Museum Quarter, between Museumplein and the Vondelpark, The Looking Glass presents a distinctive and creative flagship store, with its façade reimagining a display of clothes; in both form and function P.C. Hooftstraat 138 is a celebration of textiles. Three undulated panels of glass cascade down from the upper floors, mimicking the movement of a billowing transparent cloth. This curved glass creates openings at an eye-level, unveiling the latest designs displayed inside the store.  

  • The flagship store represents the craftsmanship and geometry of high-end, tailored clothing | P.C. Hooftstraat 138 | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The flagship store represents the craftsmanship and geometry of high-end, tailored clothing Image Credit: Evabloem
  • The Looking Glass is inspired by design features of nearby museums housing Dutch art | P.C. Hooftstraat 138 | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The Looking Glass is inspired by design features of nearby museums housing Dutch art Image Credit: Evabloem

Bringing fashion and architecture together, the flagship store represents and applauds the craftsmanship and geometry of high-end, tailored clothing. The Looking Glass also stays loyal to the original design of an Amsterdam town house, with its typical three windowed vertical divisions, and where a bespoke apartment design will carry high-end architecture through the entire building, on the upper floors above the retail section.

  • Façade renovation of P.C. Hooftstraat 138, Amsterdam| P.C. Hooftstraat 138 | UNStudio | STIRworld
    Façade renovation of P.C. Hooftstraat 138, Amsterdam Image Credit: Evabloem
  • The jutting glass cases surrounded by brickwork | P.C. Hooftstraat 138 | UNStudio | STIRworld
    The jutting glass cases surrounded by brickwork Image Credit: Evabloem

The glass boxes jut out of the façade they adorn, and are surrounded by brickwork, forming the two major materials used in the design. Connecting the ground and the first floor, the three glass boxes were factory assembled and mounted on site. “Large laminated annealed low iron glass panels, both curved and straight, are bonded with structural silicone to the adjacent glass panels with stainless steel edge profiles in between, thereby forming a glass box. Each glass box is then bonded to a hidden steel frame for protection and shipping purposes, before being installed as a single unit on site. Post installation, a rigid insulation layer is added on top of a GRC panel” (glass fibre reinforced concrete),” explains the studio.

Three undulated panels of glass cascade down from the upper floors, mimicking the movement of a billowing transparent cloth | P.C. Hooftstraat 138 | UNStudio | STIRworld
Three undulated panels of glass cascade down from the upper floors, mimicking the movement of a billowing transparent cloth Image Credit: Evabloem

Later, brick slips are glued to this insulation. A metal strip is added on the ground floor level, to demarcate from the rest of the brickwork. Permitting tolerances in the curved glass that might occur during manufacturing, 8mm wide silicon is employed between the polished stainless-steel edge profiles and the glass panels. The steel profile protects the glass edges from any damage and absorb the undulation in geometry.

The façade of the building and the interiors of the two-storey apartment above the retail space have been designed and carried out by UNStudio, led by Ben van Berkel, while the tenant is responsible for the interior of the store.

Section Detail Diagram | P.C. Hooftstraat 138 | UNStudio | STIRworld
Section Detail Diagram Image Credit: Evabloem

Project Details

Name: The Looking Glass
Location: PC Hooftstraat 138, Amsterdam
Year of completion: 2019
Building surface: Retail, (ca 340 sqm), Residential (130sqm)
Client: Warenar Real Estate – Warenar developed and owns Crystal House, the Hermes Boutique
Programme: Retail facade, Residential
Architect: UNStudio
Facade engineer: ARUP
Structural engineer: Brouwer en Kok
Executive architect for main construction: Gietermans & Van Dijk Architecten B.V.

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About Author

Jincy Iype

Jincy Iype

Iype is a trained architect, who often indulges in writing and amateur photography. She was a cinephile and a melophile even before she knew what those words meant. She is inclined towards architecture journalism, and can usually be found curled up reading a book, or cooking for therapeutic relief.

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