Slab, corridorSlab, gallery-accessSlab, point-accessSlab, corridorSlab, gallery-access, skip stopSlab, corridorSlab, double-loaded, skip stopTower
De Dukaat + Zorro
Tangram Architecture | Amsterdam, Netherlands | 2002
Image of De Dukaat ...
View looking west along the De Ducaat slab, Zorro tower in the distance

ProjectDe Dukaat + Zorro
ArchitectTangram Architecture
AddressPieter Calandian/Ecueplein/Rozenplein
Building TypeSlab, double-loaded, skip stop
Slab, gallery access
Slab, gallery-access, skip stop
Slab, point-access
Number of Dwellings250
Date Built2002
Dwelling Types2 BR flats & maisonettes
No. Floors5-7 (tower=19)
Section Typeflats, maisonettes
Exterior Finish
Brick, glass, wood, wood panels
Construction TypeRC frame
Ancillary Servicescommunity center, school, health center, activity center, parking, retail

These two buildings, a long linear slab and an 18-story point tower, are part of the recent development of the district of De Aker, on the western perimeter of Amsterdam. The tower marks the intersection between Pieter Calandlaan, which is the a main street leading from central Amsterdam, and the new shifted grid resulting from the traces of the former horticultural uses. Tangram Architects won the design competition for the design of the new center that was built in two stages, the tower in 1999 and the slab 3 years later. This was a mixed-use program with regional shopping, two schools, a health center, activity center, parking and about 300 apartments.

A slab that is 400 meters long and varies in height from 5 – 7 floors dominates the project. This element forms a continuous, concatenated wall along the north side of Pieter Calandlaan that includes a zone of parking, landscaping, and a tramway. The west end zone of parallel open space enlarges in the semi circular park Ecuplein. The 18-story point tower is a freestanding element in Ecuplein and makes a vertical marker related to the end of the slab that aligns with Reitsmakade and the shifted street grid west of the site. Part of the end condition of the long wall is a lower element that aligns with Reitsmakade. The slab steps in height from the east to west ends and, although it is continuous, is modulated with 5 large 3-story-high gateways that provide views to the buildings and public spaces on the north side of the wall. The taller ground floor is detailed as a continuous commercial arcade. The floors above are all residential and contain a variety of dwellings including maisonettes and flats and both rented and owned dwellings. Entrance to the residential floors is by entrance lobbies along the arcade and from a wide raised gallery on the north side at the second floor. A corridor beneath this gallery services the ground floor commercial spaces. Community spaces like the schools, the health center, and activity also attach to the north side of the wall with access from the raised gallery.

The balconies and repetitive nature of the facades belie that extreme complexity of the section. The building width varies, however, it is wide enough (about 13 meters) that a skip-stop corridor arrangement with maisonettes possible both on the upper floors, and with long, through apartments with entrances off the gallery. The use of deep balconies helps provide day lighting and ventilation to interior rooms in this deep section. The dominant material is a dark brick that is used for walls as well as the cantilevered railings. The position of the structure is established by the white concrete colonnade of the ground floor but is reinforced by the by the frames of the gateways and by windows and balcony cutouts so that even with the very horizontal order of this extremely linear surface, the result is a very regular, repetitive, hierarchical, layered organization. Trespa paneling is used in some areas to help express the mix of dwellings and as a means of further accentuating architectural features.

The metaphor “Zorro” that is used to describe the tower is intended to convey the imagery of a vertical shaft draped with a flowing cape. In this case the vertical shaft marks the intersection of the two orthogonal grids at the west end of the slab and the cape is a faceted zone of apartments that more-or-less wraps the shaft following the curvature of the open space of Ecuplein. At 18 floors, this is one of the tallest residential towers in Amsterdam and is a landmark building for the De Aker district. The building is sited on a grassed mound that contains the parking and other services. The entrance level and lobby is expressed as an open colonnade similar to the commercial plinth of De Dukaat. The floors above are clad with the faceted, patterned surface of a wood curtain wall system. The apartments within are aligned with the urban grid a group of 2 bedroom flats with terraces that outline the overall curving shape. Two larger penthouses at the top have more extensive terraces completing the Zorro imagery and the more traditional classical iconography of base, shaft and capital.

There are other examples of similar residential towers that are organized with fan-shaped dwellings that back up to a regular zone of services. Aalto’s Bremen tower, 1962, is an example of this and an earlier example in Milan, the Mangiarotti and Morassutti tower on via Quadronno (1960) that also used a wood curtain wall. Both of these are much smaller buildings, but in these examples, the apartments back up to a common service core on one side while Zorro is basically a central core layout.

Linear cities and linear buildings occupy a special place in the history of Modern Architecture. Typically derived from linear transportation systems, linear buildings seem to result almost automatically as some kind of extruded section. This can result in the typical zeilenbau formation--a narrow slab--but it also suggests something that could be extended almost indefinitely resulting in various linear magabuildings such Rossi’s Galaratese slab in Milan (1974), a building that is also arcaded and Corviale in Rome (1982) by Mario Fiorentino and others, a building one kilometer long w/1600 dwellings. The linear nature of Amsterdam’s canals also suggest linear, repetitive building formations and so it should not be surprising to see the rebirth of extreme linear slabs like De Dukaat occurring as part of the extensive building program going on in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities in recent years that involve very large sites. Whereas the linear city emphasized a linear system that connected points, the linear building defines a wall-like surface that not only connects, but also defines and encloses space. Other extremely long residential walls in Amsterdam include the Rietlanden project by Uytenhaak (2002) and the Cruquiskade/Sporenboog “ell’, in Het Fuen by de Architekten Cie (2004), that like De Dukaat, involves a corner site. Together, these three projects constitute a remarkable exhibition of a linear building typology

Amsterdam Architecture 2000-2002, Marlies Buurman + Maarten Kloos, (ed), Arcam & Natura Press, Amsterdam, 2003, pp. 32-33

Architecture in Netherlands Yearbook 2000-2001, NAI, Rotterdam, pp. 62-63.

(re: Zorro):

(re: Dukaat):

Tangram web site for Zorro

Tangram web site for De Dukaat

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©2002 Roger Sherwood. All Rights Reserved