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WIEL ARETS

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Wiel Arets was born in Heerlen in 1955, graduated from Eindhoven University of Technology in 1983 and founded Wiel Arets Architect & Associates in Heerlen in 1984. The firm moved to Maastricht in 1997. Arets has held a number of academic posts: from 1986 to 1989 he taught at the Academy of Architecture in both Rotterdam and Amsterdam and from 1988 to 1992 he was Diploma Unit Master at the Architectural Association in London. From 1991 to 1994 he was Visiting Professor at Columbia University and the Cooper Union in New York, the Berlage Institute in Amsterdam, the HAK in Vienna and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen. In 2000 he held the Mies van der Rohe chair at the ETSAB in Barcelona and since 2001 he has held the Berlage chair at Delft University of Technology. From 1995 to 2002 he was Dean of the Berlage Institute and director of the Berlage PhD programme. In 2004 he took up a professorship at Berlin University of the Arts and opened a second office in Amsterdam and changed the firm’s name to Wiel Arets Architects. Mr. Arets received the Victor de Stuers prize in 1987 and 1994, the Charlotte Köhler prize in 1988, the Rotterdam-Maaskant prize in 1989, the Edmund Hustinx prize in 1991, the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion Award special mention in 1994, and the Concrete Award in 1995; in 1998 the Academy of Fine Art Maastricht was chosen by the International Union of Architects (UIA) as one of the world’s thousand best twentieth-century buildings and in 2005 he was awarded both the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects BNA Cube and the Rietveld prize. Now, he is the Dean of the College of Architecture, IIT, Chicago USA.

 

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Wiel Arets - Proyectos

The Double

Architects: Wiel Arets Architects

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Year: 2008-2019

Images/text from: https://www.wielaretsarchitects.com/en/projects/

 

By the Architects:

This recently completed luxury-housing complex, consisting of 45 residential units in two volumes–one street side, and the other canal-facing–are connected by an underground, communal parking garage, and are separated above by an internal, and lushishly landscaped, intimate courtyard for its residents. Four penthouses are situated on the top two floors of the rear, canal-facing volume; two on the front. The building itself is sited on the eastern edge of Amsterdam's city center, which was built in the sixteenth century, about a half a kilometer from the 'Zuiderkerk' (Southern Church), which dates from 1608. Due to the delicate nature of the site within the center of historic Amsterdam, groundwork during preparation of the building's foundation, uncovered evidence of archaeological remains from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which the city excavated and studied. After months of the site's excavation by the city, construction proceed on–The Double. 

Rare for Amsterdam; this full service residential complex, has a 24/7 concierge, cleaning, and laundry services integrated into the way of life of its residents. Upon entry on the ground floor, a spacious lobby tunnels through the street-facing volume, leading to the communal courtyard. From the lobby, a wide marble staircase descends to the parking garage and individual storage units of each resident. Additionally off the lobby is a gym and wellness spa with sauna, which is both public, and included for use by all residents. The entire building is clad in glass ‘shingles’, which are painted in shades of gray on their backsides, so that the building never has to be painted due to weathering. The scale of the shingles references the copious brick façades of the buildings sited on the same street. While the shingles' large scale lends monumentality to the building; it's further emphasized, by the enormous square windows that punch through the façade. A relief on the front side of the glass shingles, provides the building with a subtle rippling texture, onto which charlatan like dances of glittering light and shadow can play.

The complex's front volume is six stories high, while the rear is five stories high, and overlooks a little-trafficked canal, with the occasional boat passing by. While many units' plans are identical, all have been outfit with white polyurethane floors, black light switches and power outlets, and centrally monitored security. The units situated on the ground floor carve their terraces from the courtyard to encourage the residents' community to fluidly interact, while the ground floor units in the rear volume, also have French terraces that open onto the canal. One very special unit in the rear volume is bi-level, with its own private boat dock abutting the canal; its loggia's fence can be lowered in order to step into the boat. The 'fences' that are in essence railings aligning every terrace and outdoor space throughout the complex, are custom designed to provide angular visual privacy into each unit, while simultaneously allowing for a maximum transparency from within, due to the 'folding' at their upper edges. 

The two top floor penthouses in the rear volume, which are about 200 m2 in size, each have their own private roof terrace totaling about 60 m2. The penthouses in the lower floor of the rear volume do not have roof terraces. Yet, two additional penthouses on the top floor of the front volume, each about 170 m2, also have private roof terraces of, about 60 m2 each; bringing the total number of penthouses in the complex to six. Unique to the two penthouses in the street-facing volume, are again the enormous windows, yet slanted, so residents, when looking out, see only the sky, rather than automobiles and street traffic below. All residential units are able to be accessed with an electronic key card, as is every door and elevator throughout the housing complex. A specially built app additionally allows for remote access, using any smartphone. This is luxury living at its finest, in the center of Amsterdam.

Europaallee Site D

Architects: Wiel Arets Architects

Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Year: 2012-2020

Images/text from: https://www.wielaretsarchitects.com/en/projects/

 

By the Architects:

This new mixed-use office and retail building is an integral component of Zürich's ‘Europaallee’, a currently emerging district adjacent to the city's central train station. The building is currently known as ‘Site D’ due to the numbers of buildings in the central Europaallee district; eight in total, each assigned a letter, ‘A' through 'H’. A plinth of retail programming anchors the building to its site, while its upper volumes consist of flexible office spaces that, due to their shallow depth and efficient façade grid, can be occupied by several individual companies or a larger singular tenant. These dual programs posed the challenge of creating two lighting and spatial requirements within this prominently sited building. The main entry is positioned along the parallel street named Europaallee, and opens onto the ground floor’s main retail, dining, and circulation spaces. From the ground floor, a central staircase complemented by two ramping escalators traverses and connects these areas. Eight floors of office space are set atop the plinth, and are organized around a multi-level exterior courtyard, essentially creating two office ‘towers’. A closed cavity façade system, bound by polished concrete with Carrara marble, encases the building; luxuriously contrasting matte-brass finishings, such as those adorning the ground floor entryways. 

Due to the nature of the site–on the one hand, facing the main pedestrian path of Europaallee, and on the other, facing platform three of Zürich’s central train station–it was chosen to cantilever a portion of this building out over that train platform. This was also done to slip the building into its site-defined, rigid urban context, so as to build the ‘façade of the city’ directly up against the train tracks–which simultaneously allows for the utilization of the site’s full maximum floor area potential. Owing to the preexisting condition of the need for an enormous underground delivery hall, below the new district–a space that also needed to be column-free, so as to accommodates larger delivery trucks–compounded with the building’s site; this project’s structure is then, rather complex. This delivery hall, which is partially set under the building and partially below a neighboring building, has a maximum dimension of about 57x25 m, of which 23x25 m is also column-free, so that delivery trucks are able to enter, and turn around. A tunnel connects this delivery hall to the two other new buildings under construction in the Europaallee, as well as to a new shopping arcade in the central train station. 

All deliveries for these three buildings, passes through this new subterranean delivery hall. The site’s relatively slender nature partially dictated the shape of the building, as its plot allows for a building with a maximum of 22m depth on its eastern side, and a maximum depth of 38m on its western edge. Because of this situation, a cantilever was introduced on the building’s track facing, northern façade. This cantilever extends 9 m over the adjacent train track, above which are eight, of the ten total stories. The cantilevered stories rest above the double-heighted floors of retail space. A net of structural concrete beams 1.8 m high and 1.2 m wide is gridded over the retail space, and redistributes the weight load of the cantilevered portion back to the adjacent central cores, spanning the ground floor space, through to the building’s opposite side. Additionally, pre-stressed tension cables within the ground floor carry the whole weight of the building’s cores, to the borders of the underground tunnel, in order to leave a large enough space so that the delivery hall can be free of columns, to accommodate deliveries.

Google is this new district’s main tenant, and will also occupy most office space in ‘Site D’. Foreseeing a possible conversion into future residential units, the building’s flexible while complicated structure was designed to allow for such a repurpose of its program, as this. The resulting silhouette of the building, and the precise alignment of its highest points with the trackside façades of the two adjacent plots, ensures a unified building amid the area’s planned structures, further defining the distinguished context of the surrounding ‘Europaallee’. As with many new urban spaces within Zürich, ample seating and bike parking will be incorporated. Similar to allée of formal gardens; the district will be planted with copious amounts of greenery. Trees will border the main pedestrian path, creating a ‘small-scale’ urban garden in the resulting ‘urban canyon’ that this entire new district will shape. With the completion of this new building–the last remaining plot in the development–Europaallee Zürich area will be finalized in its entirety, after the corporation developing it was first formed, back in 1995.

Antwerp Tower

Architects: Wiel Arets Architects

Location: Antwerp, Belgium

Year: 2014-2021

Images/text from: https://www.wielaretsarchitects.com/en/projects/

 

By the Architects:

In 1907, in Antwerp, Belgium, a new opera house was completed in the then fashionable Beaux-Arts style that was sweeping through Europe as a reaction to the numerous unifications of nations, which had taken place at the end of the nineteenth century. The Flemish Opera, as the building is currently called, is situated, about 300 m from Antwerp's Central Train Station; the latter being completed just two years later, in 1909, in a similar yet more eclectic manner, due to its idiosyncratic use of ornamentation. The most direct manner of routing between these two buildings, for automobiles, trams, as well as pedestrians, is a boulevard serving as the western, and secondary entrance to the station–the so-named Keyserlei. This boulevard is one of the most trafficked streets in the city, giving direct access to the city center from the station; the Keyserlei is c. 300 m long, and received even more impetus as a major thoroughfare for the city when the premetro was opened in 1975, with the dedicated and adjacent stop–Opera. At the western end of the Keyserlei–which is its terminus–is the Antwerp Tower. 

Constructed in the 1970s, when the premetro was nearing its completion; the Antwerp Tower was built on the site of a former dance hall that was demolished in early 1900s and replaced by a grand city hotel, typical of the period–also built in a Beaux-Arts manner. The hotel next to the Flemish Opera, would, in the mid-century, stand empty for decades–until it was demolished in the 1960s. Today the Keyserlei–anchored at each end by Antwerp Central Station and the Flemish Opera–is, due to the demolition and repurposing of buildings, which resulted in a mix of buildings from the 1800s to the 2000s, therefore a case study in the recent history of Flemish architecture. The Antwerp Tower, when completed in 1974, was a building consisting of office towers for international corporations, which then accumulated unprecedented global reach due to capitalist communications. Unilever was, for a long time, one of the tower's primary tenants; but occupancy tended to fluctuate over the years, with the 1990s seeing its final, steady decline. 

During the end of the early-2000s, and the first years of the 2010s, the tower's base continued to house programming, while the roof of its base proved popular as a spot for creating a temporary roof terrace. In 2012 the tower was sold to a Belgian company specialized in repurposing, via redeveloping, existing though underutilized urban properties–with the intention of creating a housing tower. The tower originally stood at a height of 87 m, and consisted of a square-shaped base spanning the first several floors, atop of which is the tower, which was and will remain, marquise diamond-like in the shape of its floorplan. The renovation of the Antwerp Tower will extend the height of the building to just over 100 m, making it the second tallest building in the city, after the Cathedral of Our Lady–which dates from the mid-1500s, and stands at a height of 127 m. In addition to the vertical extension, the tower's floorplan will also be widened by about 10 m.

Upon completion, the building's base will house retail, restaurants, and office space, while the tower itself will contain a total of 240 apartments. The tower's extended floorplan allows for the creation of loggias in every apartment, thus enabling outdoor living in the center of the city–for instance, an intimate dinner party with a group of friends, on the loggia. The building's façade will be finished with enormous, custom produced, polished concrete components, which in some places, will measure up to 9 m in length, to minimize visual façade patterning. In contrast to the building at the time of its completion in 1974–with its gold-hued, reflective windows and its repeating bands of exposed concrete spandrels; the tower's new iteration is outfit in transparent, non-mirrored, non-tinted windows that are much larger in scale than those previously used, which are mullion-free. 

The main entrance for the tower's residents is adjacent to the Flemish Opera, directly to the right of its main entrance, which opens onto a lobby that spans half the width of the building's base, and is outfit with generous seating as well as a concierge desk–for such use as laundry and reception services, for residents. A massive, four story void climbs up through the lobby, allowing natural daylight to spill down below. The building's base contains retail on its first two floors, offices on the next two, and a restaurant atop the base–with a large roof terrace. These spaces in the building share the same entrance used by the owners of the apartments in the tower, which explains the lobby's numerous areas for sitting. The building contains a four-storey underground parking garage, with space for 214 automobiles, and space for 700 bicycles. With the opening of the renovated Opera premetro station in November 2019; this area of Antwerp, is being reborn. 

IJhal Amsterdam

Architects: Wiel Arets Architects

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Year: 2010-2019

Images/text from: https://www.wielaretsarchitects.com/en/projects/

 

By the Architects:

The IJhal is a recently completed pedestrian passageway situated within Amsterdam’s central train station, on its the northern, waterside–which abuts the river it’s named for, the IJ. The central station has been under continuous construction, for approximately the last decade, as the city spearheaded a total transformation of the original nineteenth century building, by expanding it below, above, and at its rear, in order to accommodate the city’s growing population, and increasing number of tourists. A major portion of the station’s renovation and expansion is related to the soon to-be opened 'North-South' metro line–which is set to run along that axis of the city, and for the first time, enable one of the city’s metro lines to cross under the river IJ, at the back of the city’s train station. Amsterdam’s central train station is thus a confluence point for its many taxis, metro lines, trams, trains, and infinite cyclists, in addition to being a loading point for the IJ’s ferry-boat traffic; it is a major node of pedestrian and public transportation movement in Amsterdam.Outfit with enormous LED screens, which continually transition their displays between voyeuristic, calming scenes of the city–and alternatively, advertising–and set with a golden-yellow-tan hued terrazzo floor; the multifaceted interior passage is meant to encourage constant pedestrian movement, simultaneously remaining durable under the foot traffic of tens of thousands of travelers each day. A system of modular, rounded mirrored elements adorns the IJhal’s ceiling, arranged in a playful grid that introduces a sense of movement to the ever-shifting reflections from below, communicating in tandem with the mirrors that wrap the passage’s load bearing poles, which dot the IJhal’s main axis. All of these mirrored elements cast the radiating, ever-undulating fluctuations of the IJ's surface reflections in the IJhal so they refract into the adjacent passageways, in a nod to Amsterdam’s, historic, deeply intertwined relationship to water.Shops align the IJhal’s southern edge, while strung along its northern is a series of restaurants; the latter’s situation within the project, along its water side, enables views toward the water of the IJ while dining, and the observation of a constant stream of cyclists passing by, on the new bike ‘highway’ that runs parallel to the river IJ. Staircases within rectangular voids connect the IJhal to the regional bus terminal above, with waves of winter-hearty, undulating ivy gardens, whose growth spills over and into the voids from above–introducing a gentle, natural element, within this highly chiseled, and otherwise extremely durable area, which must daily accommodate tens of thousands of travelers. Escalators below every bus staircase will eventually lead to the train station’s metro stop, and platforms for the North-South line, which runs under the station, perpendicular to the IJ; this metro will eventually the city’s visitors and residents to bypass its tram system and instead use this metro, if venturing south of the station toward the city.Terrazzo, in addition to its use on the IJhal’s floor, was also chosen for the custom way-finding signage holders, and the many photo-booths that align the IJhal’s main pedestrian axis, enabling a visually cohesive language to emerge. Simultaneously, the signage of each shop and restaurant has been integrated into the walls of glass that front all such ‘interior’ spaces in the IJhal, with each lit from behind, further brining unity to this otherwise frantically busy location within the station. A series of secondary passageways perpendicular to the IJhal impart direct visual connections to the waterfront, throughout the entire station. Notions of transparency and reflection within the IJhal, seek to reestablish Amsterdam’s connection to its northern neighborhoods, which were severed from the city’s center, upon the train station's completion, in 1889.

KNSM Island Skydome

Architects: Wiel Arets Architects

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Year: 1990-1996

Images/text from: https://www.wielaretsarchitects.com/en/projects/

 

By the Architects:

This housing project is located on KNSM Island, a former inter-city dock that fell into disuse during the 1970s, which has since been redeveloped into a residential area with abundant green space and numerous quays. Its design consists of four separate but closely grouped volumes, each with 21 stories. Every level is composed of five apartments, while five penthouses occupy the top floor. KNSM Island was formerly used by the Royal Netherlands Steamboat Company; it overlooks Amsterdam to its south and the waters of the IJ to its north. The tower is oriented according to this north-south axis, and a submerged car park shapes its plinth, which is recessed from the island's ground plane, so that it serves as an expansive private terrace for the tower's residents. The lobby is located along the tower's northern façade; it can be accessed from both the internal parking garage and exterior plinth. The lobby is banded by an elongated convex ribbon of fenestration, which is a direct inversion of the angle that constitutes the confluence of KNSM Island with that of the adjacent Java Island.

Wiel Arets- At MCH

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