As an optimistic dream born out of the water surrounding Amsterdam, Almere remains one of the live laboratory of contemporary architecture, an undisputed set of opportunity. The Olympia Kwartier will raise in this tradition, as a new neighborhood in the south east outskirt of the city. If on one side, as always in architecture's history, every new town foundation set a double challenge, the will to redefine new lifestyles and the necessity to explore the fuzzy path between tradition and novelty; on the other side the bead chain concept of the Masterplan aims at embedding the inner quality of a layered urban condition. To achieve this we've been given a precise toolbox of rules to put at play, defining heights, width, materiality and programs. With these premises we've been assigned 2 buildings of opposite scales. But designing from the very Small to the Large in one go can confuse the stack: one could be tempted to use the same approach. As dictated by rules and programs we decided to follow different strategy. For the Large, a 14 storey tall tower, we immediately faced a problem we learned to know: as the symbol of maximum building efficiency, a tower lacks social space. For the very small, a 4 apartment parasite-building, embedded and floating between 2 buildings, we decided to play with a continuous open space in order to maximize the capacity of a minimal program.
The Masterplan gave us the possibility to have a penthouse* on top of the tower but the benefit of this very special condition would have come at the expense of an exclusive use. Then, considering that the Olympia Kwartier plans green roofs on top of many of the surrounding buildings, including our neighbors, instead of limiting the social activity of our tower to the cliché of the uncomfortable elevator encounter, we decided to bring the penthouse at the heart of the building, accessible by everyone. This will provide the entire block with a large elevated garden stretching over the surrounding green roofs. The split-gap will provide a common space where every social activity can finally happen: from the occasional laundry chat, to the kids playground activity, from the Sunday barbecue to the house party. On a rainy day people will find repair and open air, and shadow on the burning summer afternoon; sun will penetrate the building through in the evening, letting sunset light hit the yard, and people will enjoy the panoramic view over the entire Olympia Kwartier.

type: housing and offices
place: Almere, The Netherlands
team: jds
status: on going
year: 2010-
© jds and mvrdv

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