Amsterdam is, today, a major european city consolidated on an important architectural tradition. A strong sense of identity and belonging is very characteristic of both the city and the country -defined by its permanent fight between the sea and the territory conquered to it- and that reflects on a generalized concern over the quality of public spaces and their collective enjoyment.
Hence, the Amsterdam Children’s Playschool starting point was the idea of having a children daycare center as a device to qualify an abandoned public space.
Designed over an abandoned dock, this proposal combines classrooms with exterior patios, with different uses and diverse degrees of privacy (some more public functioning as plazas, others semi-private with flexible uses, others totally private for the exclusive use of the daycare center).
These exterior spaces allow for the children’s development not only in an intelectual sense but also in a physical sense, maximizing the benefits of sunlight and the relationship with the water.
Complementarly, a cultural space is proposed for the benefit of the Stichting Het Stenen Hoof Association, integrated with the school during the day and working autonomously during the evening, allowing for the dock to become a cultural and educational epicenter for all ages.
The dock has a remarkable presence on the neighborhood, advancing over the water, in a dialog with the emblematic EYE Film Museum and the famed Silodam residential complex.
This proposal doesn’t intend to compete with the protagonism of the important constructions nearby, nor banalize the singular but strong simplicity of the place where it stands: its design delicately underlines the dock’s perimeter, reinforcing its relationship with the water and its surroundings with a serene horizontal gesture, presenting an enigmatic surface to the landscape in a poetic play with the light and the surroundings.
Contrasting with its silent translucid exterior, there’s a complex, transparent, fragmented and playful interior, with a humanized scale and rich in events. At its core there’s a public space of collective use, around which the educational program is organized. The roof itself is an extension of the city’s public space.
The relationship with the water, so present throughout the entire city, is controlled here, with the building appearing frequently as opaque to the water views. Nevertheless, some of its interior paths lead us to exceptional situations of intense visual escape towards the channel and the opposing bank, culminating on an elevated gangway over the dock remains. Doing this we invert the usual experience of the city, separating architecture and water and revealing it only in exceptionally defined moments.
Finally, the cultural equipment was emphasized, allowing not only for this complex to provide a service to the city as a whole but specially allowing the building to serve as an anchor that stimulates the use of this renewed public space by the city.
This intervention fulfills the idea of transforming abandoned areas into qualified urban spaces, inverting a negative space and turning it into an added value to the city, creating new spaces for the citizens to grow.