The jury stated: ‘Common Practice joins sharp analytical capabilities with an almost romantic approach to design, which results in sensitive and multifunctional micro floor plans.’
As one of the winners of a call for young architects , Common Practice and Studio AAAN were given the opportunity to develop a housing scheme for housing corporation Stadgenoot. A large block was to be built on Block 8, one of the plots within the larger urban redevelopment plan of Oostenburgereiland and which was perhaps one of the most challenging because of extreme limitations: a narrow stretch of land along the blind side elevation of a large public parking garage, seemingly unsuitable for housing. While the urban plan asked for separate apartment buildings of different heights and contrasting facades, the budget asked for a dense programme in a repetitive structure. In the proposed solution the mass of the block is divided into three apartment buildings, with each their own proper entrance hall and a limited number of apartments per staircase. A townhouse is introduced to disrupt the length of the block and limit the number of elevators to three. On the outside the facades are organised into a family of repetitive yet diverse grids. On the inside, the collective nature of the block is revealed. Three gates lead to a tall and narrow courtyard with white facades, a gravel floor and solitary trees, inspired by hidden courtyards in the old city of Amsterdam. The shared courtyard connects the dwellers to the collective bicycle storages and provides rays of reflected morning and evening light to the back sides of the apartments.
Common Practice and Studio AAAN developed buildings A , C and the collective courtyard to a definitive design, MIX Architectuur was asked to design buildings B and D.
Function: 66 dwellings, commercial space Location: Amsterdam Oostenburgereiland Size: buildings 5500m2, courtyard 500m2 Status: expected completion 2020 Client: Woningcorporatie Stadgenoot Amsterdam Project: common practice x studio aaan & mix architectuur
The volume of the house is deep and narrow. It occupies nearly the full 4x15 meter plot, leaving open only a small courtyard to the back. To make the most of available light and space, the original very compartmentalised layout of little rooms and hallways was replaced by flexible spaces, with a minimum of separating walls and doors. The ceilings were stripped to create more height and reveal the 17th and 19th century bearing structure of the house. A 1970's spiral stair, an objet trouve on site, was refurbished and returned into a more central position of the house. On the ground floor utilities were clustered and hidden behind a thin panel wall. Part of the 17th century brick bearing wall was stripped to give definition and texture to the otherwise white interior. The contrasting kitchen reads as a temporary utilitarian object. A large opening was introduced to connect the tiny courtyard with the interior space. On the first floor, during daytime, the open space connect to the precious daylight from both the front and back facades. In the evenings, heavy woollen curtains allow for privacy. The recycled 17th century beams, discovered during demolition works, were left in their original state, adding a pale yellow to the otherwise neutral pallet. Floors in the lightest shade of grey, arabescato marble and white painted woods, give people and objects a certain lightness, a sense of floating sometimes.
Designed as an exploration of a compact free standing dwelling on the smallest possible footprint, a Tiny Tower can be placed on a small patch of underused suburban land, attached to a blind facade of an apartment block, or be part of a high-density community of free standing homes. With a total living area below 50m2 the Tiny Tower unites qualities of the suburban private house with the economy of a compact urban apartment. The tower is designed to fit a 8x8 meter plot and distributes the functions of living, dining, sleeping and leisure over three interior platforms and two exterior platforms. While the roof terrace is arranged as a secluded private garden, the small porch at the front door provides a space to socialize with the neighbors. The interior platforms are connected by top-lit void, ensuring a connection to daylight independent of the context. The eco-friendly and cost effective wooden structure can be placed on a light foundation, is insulated with recycled paper cellulose and finished with low-maintenance bamboo boarding.
Function: dwelling with minimal land use Location: Homeruskwartier Almere Size: 46m2 Status: competition 2016
Common Practice is currently designing 270 m2 of multifunctional living and working spaces situated in two ground floor units of a newly built cooperative apartment building in the former harbour district of Buiksloterham in Amsterdam Noord. The first unit will be the home of a social engineering agency with a strong connection to the public life of the city. The front office has an open character and is flexible to host workshops and events. A mezzanine overlooks the front space and strengthens the reaction to the facade and the sidewalk. The second unit will be the combined work and living spaces of a family with young children. The private areas of the home are oriented towards the collective garden at the rear of the building. The work area with extra high ceilings has a separate entrance and opens up to the street. It will function as a separate home office and part-time doctors practice. Outside working hours it can be connected to the routines of the home. A mezzanine overlooks both the office and the living room. The zone along the facade is treated as an interior sidewalk, arranged to balance privacy and representation towards the street.
Function: living and working spaces Location: Amsterdam Size: 270m2 Status: expected completion 2019 Client: private
apartment building A
This medium sized apartment building is located on Oostenburgereiland, a former harbour and warehousing area in central Amsterdam which is currently being redeveloped into a mixed-use neighbourhood. Purposefully disorganised new blocks in a robust architecture are mixed with heritage buildings to preserve the special industrial character of the area. As the corner building of the block, building A negotiates between the large scale INIT office complex opposite, the extra large 8 storey parking garage attached to the rear, and the quiet residential courtyard to the side. The large facade grid over two apartments hints towards the abstraction and neutrality of industrial buildings. The transition to the smaller scale of the residential neighbourhood is addressed by the cornershop-like quality of the commercial space on the ground floor. A large gate connects the street with the entrance hall to the apartments, collective bicycle storage and collective courtyard of the block. As a gesture to the curious passer by, the underpass will stay open to the public for the large part of the day.
Function: rental apartments & commercial space Location: Amsterdam Oostenburgereiland Size: 18 dwellings, 50m2 - 76m2 Status: expected completion 2020 Client: Woningcorporatie Stadgenoot Amsterdam Project: common practice x studio aaan
apartment building C
This medium sized apartment building is located Oostenburgereiland, a former harbour and warehousing area in central Amsterdam which is currently being redeveloped into a mixed-use neighbourhood. Purposefully disorganised new blocks in a robust architecture are mixed with heritage buildings to preserve the special industrial character of the area.
Building C is part of dwelling block 8, a particularly narrow site facing a large blind wall of an 8 storey public parking garage. While the scale of the front elevation suggests a sizeable apartment building, the limited depth in fact only allows for a modest 3 apartments per floor, rather luxurious for rental units. The typical apartment has 2.5 rooms: a living room and bed room facing the street and a secret ‘half’ room looking out over the quiet courtyard.
While the repetitive facade grid hints towards the abstraction and neutrality of former industrial buildings, the two bottom floors address the scale of the residential street. Next to the double height gate there is a duplex apartment and two ground floor apartments, all with private entrances facing the street. The large gate is an open route from the street to the main entrance hall, the hidden courtyard of the block and the collective bicycle storage located in building A. As a gesture to the curious passer by, the underpass will stay open to the public for the large part of the day.
Function: rental apartments & commercial space Location: Amsterdam Oostenburgereiland Size: 18 dwellings, 45m2 - 72m2 Status: expected completion 2020 Client: Woningcorporatie Stadgenoot Amsterdam Project: common practice x studio aaan