It takes a village to raise a child which is why a family in Amsterdam has asked Dutch architect studio BETA to transform their home. The result is a building which accommodates both the couple and their children, with ‘separate’ living quarters for their grandparents — so the the different generations can look after one another easily.
The grandparents occupy the uppermost floors which are connected to the bottom levels by a central yellow staircase and elevator. Their residence has been designed to be an apartment, with generous views across the cityscape. Meanwhile, on the ground floor, the couple and children live in a space designed in the style of a house, with access to an outdoor area and garden.
The yellow staircase is an active celebration of the need for vertical circulation. Talking to Dezeen, the team from BETA explains how the design acts as an omnipresent sculptural element in the lower level, and as it rises, it transformed into a series of voids.
“This central access system allows a ‘surplus floor’ to be combined with either apartment,” BETA says. “Initially used as a space for guests for the topmost apartment, this space can be easily added to the lower apartment through a few elementary technical amendments.”
The northern façade has been purposefully designed to appear more closed off. Comprising large format concrete masonry, wrapped in high-grade thermal insulation, this enhances the ambient temperature within the residences and reduces sound exposure from the busy street.
The southern façade, however, has been completely opened up — maximising the connection to light and the outdoors. The expansive windows are triple glazed and timber elements brighten the architecture.
“Closed and bare towards the North, light and fragile towards the South, the building is a composition of contrasts,” BETA says. “In between the two contrary façades, the building’s plan undergoes a gradual transformation, from the compartmentalised north to open-plan and structured with free-form elements in the south where the building is concluded with an informal filter-like balcony layer.”
It comes as no surprise that this incredibly versatile and adaptive building has been nominated for the Amsterdam Architecture Prize 2019 annual award for best projects in the city of Amsterdam.
Photography: Ossip van Duivenbode