Sep 27, 2019 / Architecture
The Double by Wiel Arets Architects

The Double is a minimalist architecture project located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, designed by Wiel Arets 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.

Photography by Jan Bitter