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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.
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 facade creates openings at an eye-level, unveiling the latest designs displayed inside the store.
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.
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.
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.
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
Facade engineer: ARUP
Structural engineer: Brouwer en Kok
Executive architect for main construction: Gietermans & Van Dijk Architecten B.V.
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