Dutch architect Wiel Arets designed The Double, a luxury housing development in the eastern part of central Amsterdam containing 45 residential units of different sizes in two volumes, five and six floors high, separated by a shared garden. One of the volumes overlooks a quiet, little-trafficked canal, while the other faces onto the street and contains the main entrance. The project’s name comes from this dual identity, of course, and from the decision to create completely different façades for the two buildings, underlining the separation of the two blocks.
The part of the city The Double stands in was built in the seventeenth century, making it particularly delicate when excavating for new foundations. It is not rare to find historical artefacts in the area, as in the case in point; construction had to be halted for several months to allow the institutions to excavate and study the findings. But the patience of the tenants of The Double has finally paid off, as the housing development offers some of the city’s most complete services: a concierge on duty round the clock, a centralised security service, a cleaning and laundry service, a gym, a wellness spa and a sauna are available to all residents at The Double.
Wiel Arets doesn’t see luxury merely in terms of convenience, however, but in terms of careful study of the transition from one kind of space to another, so that the experience of an entry flowing smoothly from common areas into private spaces accentuates the idea of comfort and luxury.
Upon entering the building, a big lobby crosses the volume facing onto the street, taking us through into the shared garden. From here, a big marble staircase leads down to the parking garage and individual storage cellars. If we continue across the garden, we reach the entrance to the gym and wellness area with the spa and sauna, and, on the opposite side, the entrance to the second building. Each unit has its own outdoor space, whether it be a terrace, as in the six penthouses on the top floors, a private garden, as on the ground floor, or a French terrace, as in the homes on the middle floors and those overlooking the canal.
The feature particularly characterising the architecture of The Double is undoubtedly the material used in its outer cladding: glass “shingles” on the same scale as the bricks on the adjacent buildings, maintaining consistency with the building’s surroundings. Wiel Arets specifically wanted glass shingles painted on the inside, dark grey for the front volume and ochre for the back one, so that the walls will maintain the brightness of their original colour as the years go by, with no need for repainting. The singles alternate with gigantic rectangular windows of horizontal shape arranged irregularly all over the walls of the buildings. These huge openings provide plenty of daylight inside the apartments, “as much light as possible”.
In the penthouses on the top of the front building, the wall containing the windows is inclined so that the inhabitants see only the sky, not the street and the traffic below.
The style of the apartments’ interiors is sophisticated minimalism. All the units feature white polyurethane flooring with black inserts and trim, providing the same background for interior decorating in all units, which can then be customised in the owners’ preferred style, for Wiel Arets’ version of luxury necessarily involves extreme customisation of living spaces.
Location: Valkenburgerstraat 130-136, Amsterdam 1011 NC, the Netherlands
Size: 9,700 m2
Courtyard garden: 400 m2
Date of design: 2008-2010
Beginning of building: 2015
Date of completion: 2019
Project team: Wiel Arets, Harold Hermans, Dennis Villanueva, Rob Willemse, Joris van den Hoogen
Collaborators: Maron Vondeling, Joost Körver
Client: US CV-1 BV
Consultants: Van Rossum Raaggevende Ingenieurs BV, Hillen & Roosen, Crux Engineering BV, Wetering Raadgevende Ingenieurs BV
Pictures: Jan Bitter