The Diamantbeurs is a rare opportunity to explore the merged boundaries between historic preservation and contemporary form. Over the last century the historic Diamond House building in Central Amsterdam has reinvented itself countless times with a renovated parapet and extension to upper floors. For its 5th generation of redesign, we proposed four conservation principles.
Our first goal was to acknowledge the layered history of the Amsterdam skyline while not discrediting any of the previous Diamantbeurs iterations that have been explored throughout the last century. These changes were created by testing periodically innovative architectural principles, giving each iteration its own historic validity.
Our second conservation principle was to make use of urban views. The programmatic request for an additional 200 square meter roof terrace led to the exploration of a varying massing typology on the roof. We decided to extend the height of the mass toward the main urban street while allowing it to be pushed down toward the shorter historic row houses. This provided a multilayered roof terrace with a more optimized view of the iconic Amsterdam City Center roof tops, as well as the Amstel River.
The third principle revolved around tiered public spaces. The original design made use of luxurious double height spaces to make the diamond showrooms feel grand. Presently, students enjoy these spaces as large study halls that provide cross viewing lounges. Our goal was to extend these study lounges to the 6th and 7th floor providing double height living room coves.
Finally, we wanted to give attention to the buildings existing grid, proportion, and materiality, which are key to the historic preservation of this structure. All existing column lines have been maintained for a suitable structural approach; proportional logic derived from the existing facade has been transcribed into the larger gestural moves; and the materiality characteristics of the historic materials are kept intact.
UNStudio Ben van Berkel, Gerard Loozekoot with Frans van Vuure, Filippo Lodi and Tina Kortmann, Jan Kokol, Roman Kristesiashvili, Wendy van der Knijff