The metamorphosis of De Oliphant in Amsterdam
Michel Oprey & Beisterveld
„A building is only truly transformed once it is able to lead a second life.“ This sentence sums up the design philosophy behind the conversion project for De Oliphant, an office tower in the Zuidoost district in south-east Amsterdam which was redeveloped by OZ Architect in 2019. Originally created in 1992 by Hans van Egmond, the Y-shaped building needed a new design to meet modern needs in terms of permeability, transparency and greater flexibility for socialization activities. The 65-metre, 16-storey tower originally had a rather austere, post-modern look, clad in red granite and featuring an elaborate attic system covered by a double-pitched roof with a small central valley.
The project lightened up the building’s form and visual impact by using a glazed curtain wall system in place of the previous envelope composed of numerous opaque panels, now completely dismantled. Light filters through the curvature of the curtain wall via dedicated fins integrated into the aluminium frames. On the sides of the building, the vertical profile of what has now been renamed The Sharing Tower is dominated by the use of click brick to simulate the effect of birch bark, while the entrance is accessed from a large outdoor plaza.
The interior spaces had to be reorganised in accordance with contemporary working and socialisation standards based on the criteria of the sharing economy. The brightly lit lobby is open to the public and features a variety of seating solutions as well as spacious reception and eating areas. Light grey stone-effect large-format porcelain tiles with thin white-streaked veins from Coem’s Cardoso collection were chosen for the flooring in this area. Suitable for both architectural solutions and urban design, in the context of the renovated Dutch tower it provides a touch of uniform modernity that can also be observed in other areas of the building.
On the upper floors, the offices were organised for maximum flexibility. Open-space solutions were chosen (including compartmentalised areas serving as meeting rooms) to make the most of the generous amount of natural light entering the building through full-height glazing and to reveal the grid of exposed structural pillars detached from the envelope. This configuration allows the space to be divided up by means of movable partitions to create more private work areas.
The team from OZ Architect also focused on the now essential aspect of sustainability. Following the redevelopment project, the new Sharing Tower was awarded BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) certification.