We design architecture that translates circular and social ambitions into the spatial realm, inviting urbanites to engage in new ways with their surroundings. Individual, collective and public spaces outdoors form an integral part of this. As such, the concept of urban outdoor living is what drives our design for ROOTS. A small-scale residential complex located in the circular neighbourhood Cityplot Buiksloterham in Amsterdam, (plot A8) ROOTS stands out with its facade of outdoor rooms with staggered stacked gardens. Viewed from the waterside, the lush vertical landscape is visually striking; as an extension of the living room, the outdoor room becomes the most occupied space in the home. Both perspectives enhance the feeling of nature for the urban residents. The five-storey building accommodates 12 apartments, workspaces and a shared courtyard on ground floor with bicycle parking.

From indoor to outdoor

For the design of ROOTS, the outdoor spaces form the basis of the architecture from the outset as opposed to being added on as balconies later to the main building volume. Outdoor rooms will only become proper spaces for living when they can be customised, adapted and occupied all year round. The combination of gardens – a communal courtyard on ground floor and shared facade garden on each floor – invites the urban residents to shift their focus from the indoors to the outdoors, with the goal of establishing good connections with the neighbours and with nature.

Wellbeing, social interaction and aesthetics combine with the presence of flora and fauna, and feeling the changing rhythms of the day and the seasons. Residents can settle in this new part of the city in a social and natural way.

Outdoor rooms - the favourite place in the home.

Plot A8 benefits from a waterside location on Tolhuiskanaal and sunny orientation. To maximise sun, light and water views, all the apartments are complemented with outdoor rooms. Extending the apartment with an extra proper living space, these outdoor spaces are designed according to light, views and shelter. As the floor of the outdoor room is at the same level as the living room, the two spaces flow seamlessly into each other. They can be enclosed or completely opened accordingly to allow for comfort in every season and every weather condition.

Each outdoor room adjoins a generous, lush garden – shared with the neighbour – that changes position on each floor. As the gardens contribute to cooling and air purification, attract insects and butterflies and are irrigated with rainwater, this also strengthens the feeling of nature. With its attractive greenery and focus on comfort, the outdoor room becomes the favourite place in the home.

Innovation, aesthetics and comfort

The building’s structure is made of prefabricated demountable concrete elements, thus allowing it to be dismantled and reused if necessary. Supporting the facade gardens, the structure integrates a thick, sunken layer of soil which is sufficient for growing different types of plants, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. Rainwater is harvested via the roof, stored and reused for irrigating the gardens – this helps reduce the pressure of excess rainwater on the sewage system. 

Thanks to its distinctive facade of staggered stacked gardens and use of concrete and aluminium that connects to the site’s industrial context, ROOTS becomes an architectural icon in Buiksloterham.

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