by | 10. Aug 2012

Mixed use | Project | Skyscrapers | Sustainable

Photo: Christian Richters


The recently completed 21 story UNStudio Tower forms part of the Mahler 4 urban complex, a cluster of six buildings located in the heart of the South Axis in Amsterdam, connecting Schiphol Airport to the major business areas of Amsterdam South.

The facade of the UNStudio Tower plays with the juxtaposition of a horizontal and vertical articulation, conceptually relating to the principles upon which the moiré effect is based.

The horizontal articulation is provided by white, aluminium bands which wrap the tower, whilst their varying size, depth and transparency ensure the correct balance of sun screening and light penetration to the interiors on all levels of the building.


Photo: Christian Richters


Photo: Inga Powilliet


Image courtesy UNStudio


Image courtesy UNStudioFacade unfolded


Photo: Inga Powilliet

Vertical accents are formed by voids, recessed into each face of the building and spanning differing numbers of floors. These voids serve to create an inside-outside relationship which extends the facade envelope and turns the surface of the tower into an active medium with a profound effect on the quality of the interior user space.

In the design for the tower it was important for us to create a connection between the facade and the interior spaces; to see the building as whole, almost like a piece of furniture.
/Ben van Berkel

Custom colored glass panes are incorporated into the vertical voids, offering different identities and light qualities to the communal spaces which surround each void in the interior. These voids further facilitate daylight penetration deep into the extensive 40m x 40m floors.


Photo: Inga Powilliet


Photo: Inga Powilliet

The transparency of the primarily glass facade, in combination with the vertical voids, offers the user a gradient experience of the inside-outside condition, as well as the perception of an open and light interior.

The outdoor spaces which are incorporated into the recessed voids in the form of roofed balconies allow for transition from inside to outside during free time or breaks. In addition, a roof terrace with a sky view towards Amsterdam Old South can be accessed for larger outdoor gatherings.

UNStudio  sees sustainable design as an integral aspect of contemporary architecture. Sustainable solutions are not treated as add-ons, but related to each and every building element.

Flexibility with respect to future change of use with an ambition towards minimum alteration was paramount in the design of the UNStudio Tower.

A grid system was introduced into the UNStudio Tower which creates flexibility with a view to potential change of use in the future. There are currently many empty office buildings in Europe which cannot so easily be transformed, but the UNStudio Tower is designed in such a way that it could also one day be turned into housing. This provides an essential sustainable flexibility to the building.
/Ben van Berkel

Drawing courtesy UNStudioCurrent situation – office floor plan


Drawing courtesy UNStudioPossible adaption for residential use.

The Mahler 4 urban complex houses 38.000 square meters of residential spaces, 162.000 square meters of office space and 30.000 m2 of street level retail, cafes, restaurants and a sports centre. The six towers, ranging in height from 85 to 100 meters, each carry the name of its designing firm.


COUNTRYThe Netherlands
ARCHITECTVan Den Oever Zaaijer & Partners