De Jakoba

De Jakoba brings new energy to the Overhoeks neighbourhood in Amsterdam-Noord. In ‘Manhattan at the IJ’, as the new city district which fronts the IJ harbour opposite Central Station is also referred to, De Jakoba introduces one of two new social housing complexes. Making use of form and smart building methods, we realised a powerful and qualitative building: a recognisable place where people live with pride and are willing to take care of.

With De Jakoba, we committed to one gesture that simultaneously obeys and disrupts the rules.

Within the formal urban plan for the Overhoeks area – which with its ‘campus-like’ setting is rather un-Amsterdam – we gave our own interpretation of the set rules. The plan specified setbacks for the buildings to minimise the volumes from street level. We took advantage of this condition by bending the entire volume of De Jakoba inwards, allowing the volume to stagger and gradually curve upwards not only on the top floors, but over its entire height and length. The four different facades and wavy balconies that are formed ensure a recognisable appearance to the surrounding area.

Thanks to the sculptural shape of the building, each of the 135 studio apartments has a unique layout. At the heart, the narrowest part of the building, is the entrance passage that connects the communal garden to the street. As the building curves inwards, it embraces the garden and creates a sense of shelter. The open communal garden and high multifunctional spaces at the ground floor along Docklandsweg bring new vibrancy at street level.

We designed the entrance to create a sense of arrival. The entrance extends like a glass void over the full height of the building and provides wide views of the collective garden and the new urban district along the IJ from all floors.

About quantity and quality

Amsterdam is expanding rapidly. The amount of housing expected to be built in the coming decades is enormous: 52,500 until 2025. For this reason, densification is the main strategy within the city, with Amsterdam Noord leading the way. Notably, the increase of single-person households means the main focus is on providing studio apartments. Compact living will be comfortable only when there are extensive facilities provided and when they are shared. We believe these shared spaces are necessary to encourage social interaction. With increasing housing density this opens up new opportunities for people to share space – in every segment. Also, if not especially, for social housing, clients and architects have the responsibility to transform a social commission into a characterful place that makes a positive contribution to the city.

By opting for prefabricated facade elements, De Jakoba was realised in a very short time frame, which not only allowed construction costs to be greatly reduced, but also enabled residents to move into their homes much sooner.

As the thin edges of the concrete panels could be polished in one stroke, we were able to conveniently add attractive detailing to the facades.

The clear architecture is enforced by the use of a single material: light green concrete. A play of lines between the horizontal bands and vertical fins of soft green material distinguishes De Jakoba from the surrounding buildings.

The materialisation is enriched by powder-coated silver-gold window frames and balustrades, adding a warm glow. The subtly curved pillars create a changing play of light and shadow throughout the day.

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