Five floors, three generations: Terraced house in Amsterdam
The new district of Buiksloterham in the north of Amsterdam is characterized by a heterogeneous mixture of former port facilities, commercial buildings and smaller and larger residential buildings. The multi-generational house, designed by Auguste van Oppen of the Amsterdam architectural firm Beta, confronts the surrounding heterogeneous urbanism with two radically different façades. On the busy road to the north, the five-storey building seems to fade out of the streetscape with its black rendered facade, despite the fact that it is higher than most of the neighbouring buildings.
On the extensively glazed garden side in the south, the rooms open up to balconies as wide as the building. Van Oppen lives with his family on the two-and-a-half lower floors of the house, while the two-and-a-half upper floors including the roof terrace are occupied by his parents-in-law. The second floor can be integrated entirely into either of the two apartments by creating an opening in one of the non-load-bearing interior walls, closing another, and modifying some of the electric wiring and ventilation ductwork. In everyday life, however, the two accommodation units are completely separate. This also applies to the single-flight, interlocking access stairs that run across the middle of the building. Moreover, an elevator leads to the upper apartment. The latter is not only barrier-free, but also remarkably open. For the most part, only ceiling-high wall cabinets serve as room dividers; the few doors are wide enough to allow wheelchair access.
The construction of the house supports the flexibility of use laid out in the floor plans. Only the northern façade and the partitions to the neighbouring houses are load-bearing; in between, the floor slabs span a distance of 8 metres. Inside, exposed concrete ceilings, concrete block masonry, the galvanised steel profiles of the facade and the seamlessly filled floors form a neutral grey background against which the wood-veneered cabinet fronts and the yellow partition wall in the stairwell can provide effective accents.