The site for The Layercake building is located on the border of Het Funen, which is a new, large-scale development in Amsterdam, with residential program and additional mixed-use features. The East and West sides are bordered by a compact mass acting as a sound barrier for the inner buildings. The proposed insertion stands on the S-W corner, as an attractor point for this area.
The Layercake is composed of several layers of program which borrow characteristics from the surrounding neighborhoods Plantage and Oost. Both of them have a very strong touristic feeling, built over time as part of Amsterdam’s history.
Plantage was in the past the garden of Amsterdam. Urbanization of the land was slowed down by the economic implications of the Franco-Duch war. For a long time, no permanent buildings were allowed in order to prevent low-quality sprawl of the city. This preserved enough space for the botanic garden and zoo to be built in 1682. The green aspect of the area is also a key concept for Het Fuen. Abundance of gardens and orchards encouraged the entertainment to flourish, thus several theatres and venue places are to be found here. Interesting additions are the new workspaces Van Gendthallen business hub and Init Group Offices which bring a different kind of work environment and development space into the area. Plantage is also the place for education centers. Here can be found: The School of Arts, the Academy of Architecture and the School of Social Science that function together with the one for Economics and Business. A large number of students and international creative young people are part of the local population.
Oost is a modernist type of neighborhood, with the central area built in the 30s and developed towards the outskirts in the 60’s and 70’s. Close to Singlegracht canal the green area of Artis Zoo is almost mirrored by Oosterpark, one of the main parks in Amsterdam. The urban program is residential, equipped also with several schools, kindergartens, small restaurants and shops. Residents of Oost are common visitors of Plantage, and the relation between the two is interdependent. To encourage a flux, which is already quite well established in terms of urban connectivity, additional service-related program on the North-West side is always beneficial.
Those characteristics are reflected into the design and program of the building.
The green roof terrace with a view over the Nieuwe Vaart canal and De Gooyer iconic windmill can host various recreational activities. Landscaped steps can be used as seating areas for concerts or similar venues.
The terrace is supported by the bar lounge situated below, generating commercial income.
Scalable work space and hot desk places, situated on two other levels offer an informal environment for students. Adaptable furniture layout and guest rooms to be rented for meetings complement these levels. Spaces can also be used as a “work from home” location for those nearby office buildings that wish to expand.
Another level of interaction is the one hosting the galley space and lectures hall, which will help introduce the building into the touristic circuit already established within the area. It functions as exhibition space and debate for the education centers nearby, bringing together people with different areas of expertise and promoting them to the public.
The street level is almost completely open, and hosts a playground for children and adults. The cavernous space lit during the night, creates a protected environment, as an urban cave within which activities are not properly defined. The kind of space that can be taken over by different kinds of groups at different hours, making it a perfect spot for a 24hour cycle run-time. Within this space stands the spiral stair as the main attractor and entrance in the building.
To enclose the building, a double-skin façade is used for energy efficiency reasons. Esthetically it relates to the nearby canal by capturing the reflections of the water on different angles. It has a variable level of transparency with panels made out of glass or aluminum.