Living in the house of balconies
The Grid is a special kind of building that has been designed for Amsterdam by Dutch firm KCAP. Recently completed, this apartment block looks as if it were made entirely of balconies. And that’s by no means all that makes it such a liveable home.
This project has a facade that is anything but traditional. Consisting pretty much of nothing but balconies, the exterior of apartment block The Grid has a truly original look. Which gives the residents of the 68 spacious apartments some added benefits. It means that – depending on the size of apartment – each has at least one outdoor area. But there is more to this “house of balconies” that establishes the building as a further showpiece for its designers, Dutch firm KCAP.
The Grid is good for the new neighbourhood
The Grid is situated in the new neighbourhood Aan het IJ on the river IJ in Amsterdam-Noord, opposite the city’s central railway station. This modern complex is part of the transformation of former industrial site Overhoeks into a thriving residential and office quarter. The contribution made by the house of balconies to this development is rather impressive – because everything that has proven essential for high-end living in recent years is on offer here.
KCAP designed the complex for Amvest based on the concept of stacking. This allows the actual living space of each unit to be expanded outdoors and to remain open to its surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling, wide sliding windows enable additional loggias to be integrated.
The terraces let in plenty of natural light and enhance the appearance of The Grid. And the stacked design of the balconies ensures sufficient privacy in all outdoor areas, despite their proximity.
A special system for rainwater discharge is integrated into the design and works with the stepped shape of the terraces. And KCAP also takes account of another aspect that makes modern living contemporary and viable for the future: The Grid will be covered in plants. Together with the courtyard designed by landscape architects Sant & Co, this guarantees that the project will grow more verdant year by year.
Innovative grid system
The project is aptly titled – its name refers to the layout grid for the building’s design and appearance. With balconies on all four sides, this new construction doesn’t have a front and back as such. And so, strictly speaking, the project defines a new type of structure.
But there is another reason why this stack of balconies is so remarkable: KCAP has created a striking combination of materials with a facade clad in natural stone from Jura and floor-to-ceiling glazing. An anodized, brass-coloured aluminium crown shining brightly sits on top of the building. The result seems confusing at first, but then at second glance it appears decidedly elegant and luxurious.
The Grid offers a stacked living world with 68 spacious apartments on all sides.
Irma van Oort, architect and KCAP partner
The varied spectrum of materials includes both smooth and rough surfaces. Depending on the weather and lighting conditions, this allows The Grid to change its visual appearance. It also creates a thoroughly attractive home environment.
Its central lobby in the plinth makes KCAP’s The Grid look almost like a modern version of a luxurious hostel from the early 19th century. The transparent hall is the centrepiece of the complex. It opens up the building to its urban surroundings and allows unrestricted views of the green courtyard inside from out in the street. The openness naturally works both ways, and also connects residents with the outdoor world and therefore with the new neighbourhood, Aan het IJ.
This central space in The Grid has been designed by the architects at KCAP to serve as an extra “living room” in the style of a lounge. On offer to all residents, the purpose-built, multi-functional furniture designed especially for the lobby underlines the broad spectrum of usages. The possibilities range from an informal meet-up and birthday parties to simply grabbing a book to sit with a view of the shared, verdant courtyard.
Relax in the greenery
The courtyard plays a key part in the overall design: it invites residents to spend time outside, provides the ideal setting for all kinds of activities and supports the sense of togetherness for users and residents. Its detailed design was prepared with special care, creating an inspiring, timeless green world at the centre of an innovative structure. It is an attractive recreational area that also serves as an expansion of the entrance lobby – and a place that all residents of The Grid can enjoy.
The courtyard becomes a green extension of the entrance hall, a place for all residents to enjoy – together.
Irma van Oort, architect and KCAP partner
Overall, the house of balconies offers an extraordinary number of outdoor areas. This makes it an attractive place to live and aids the transition of the former industrial site to Amsterdam’s new, people- and environment-friendly urban neighbourhood.
Ideas for future-proof urban renewal are not in short supply at KCAP. For many years, the team has created a sensation with projects such as their masterplan for the railway station site in Eindhoven’s district Fellenoord. Or the OKU House in Amsterdam West: efficient urban densification was the aim behind the positioning of this new building up on the top of an existing site.
KCAP’s project New Istropolis is no less exciting, and promises a lively and “car-free” cultural quarter in Bratislava.
Sustainability and a good quality of life are high up on the agenda of the Dutch architects. And their architectural solutions are highly creative and interesting.
Open space creates domestic comfort
For example, in Singapore KCAP is building a densely greened residential complex with different various types of building. In a similar manner to The Grid, the inside of the building is expanded outside here as well. Its coastal location enables users to find their own outdoor bathing spots, even right on their doorstep. That’s not possible in Amsterdam Noord, of course. But the stacked balconies and its green heart make the complex an inviting new home.