A Modern Student Residence on a Former Amsterdam Shipyard

A Modern Student Residence on a Former Amsterdam Shipyard

Moke Architecten has completed a mixed-use educational building at NDSM, a redevelopment of Amsterdam’s largest shipyard into a creative hub.

Beginning in the 19th century and lasting until the mid-1980s, the NDSM district (NDSM stands for Nederlandse Droogdok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij, or, Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company) was the largest shipyard in Amsterdam. Located in Amsterdam-Noord, a borough north of the city, NDSM’s empty industrial buildings first attracted squatters and skateboarders; today, it’s a successful redevelopment of a former industrial area into a creative hub, inhabited by artists, restaurants and bars, and companies like Red Bull and MTV.

Moke Architecten, a local architecture firm, has contributed the newest addition to NDSM: NieuwDok, a seven-storey educational building situated by the last-standing ship dock on the site.

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The first two storeys of the 20,000-square-metre building are reserved for the activities of ROC TOP, a group of vocational training centres in Amsterdam. The upper five contain 380 studio apartments for students. The ground-level entrance and cafeteria are housed in a double-height space, and the facade appears as a platform for the upper storeys, characterized by concrete columns.

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An inner courtyard is comprised of two terraces, dotted with benches, tables and Corten planters, while an upper deck, connected by an outdoor staircase in the same red-brown hue as the public-facing cladding, provides outdoor common spaces for student residents. Construction drawings of historic ships have been reproduced on the glass panels that look onto the courtyard, a reference to the site’s history, while the weathered steel plays to the district’s industrial vibe. 

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Storeys three through seven are where Moke Architecten makes its most interesting moves. Noise from the neighbouring dock, still an active worksite, was deemed too loud for a residential building, forcing the firm to devise a work-around that would dampen the noise while still allowing apartment residents to open their windows.

To provide both thermal and acoustic protection, they developed a double facade of aluminum and glass, giving each studio apartment a bay window that serves as an extension of their living space. The sides and bottom of each window are ventilated, providing a flow of fresh air while still serving as a noise barrier. Each bay window is angled slightly, towards the waterfront, creating a relief effect.

NDSM is still a district very much in transition, no longer derelict but not yet fully rejuvenated, either; the students’ glass-walled balconies provide views of either the IJ waterfront, or the neighbouring construction sites.

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