De Keizer

The Keizer development seamlessly blends old & new in the heart of Amsterdam. Several buildings near the Dam square had been neglected for a long period of time. Others were home to a community of squatters and artists. Specialist colleague Vincent Smulders made an extensive restoration plan for the many cultural heritage buildings on the site. The dismantling of buildings that could not be restored commenced in 2015. These were replaced by new buildings, designed by Angie Abbink and Micha de Haas (previously Abbink X De Haas). The entire plan encompasses 69 apartments, of which 42 new, and 27 renovated, a parking garage and 2.200m2 commercial space, of which 40% destined to be dedicated to creative spaces such as ateliers and Artmall in a transitional bid to cater to the rich local history of artists and squatter culture of the area.

The new mixed-use plan adapts to the historical structure of the Unesco heritage city centre site and simultaneously introduces new communal courtyards and alleys, carefully integrated into the existing fabric. The contrast between the formal, stately houses along the streets and the informal back alleyways result in a typical Amsterdam inner city residential environment: complete peace and tranquillity just steps away from the busy city. A formal rhythm of high windows is applied along the main street in carefully detailed brickwork façades which were inspired by the existing historical buildings. To achieve the typical proportions of inner-city facades within the limitations of modern regulations, AXCO designed a unique window system based on a design that we had previously applied in our Palmarum project in Haarlem. What looks like a classic ‘top’ window from the Keizer exterior is actually a ‘lower’ window at floor level. This has the added benefit of providing the residents with a good view of street from deep within the apartment, thus enhancing the daily connection to the urban life below. Special attention is paid to the subdivision of the facade in this historical urban setting and to expression of the façades at ground floor level, in which brick details from the demolished buildings were repeated in white concrete.

The alleys share a more industrial approach by using horizontal window bands, stack elements and long masonry surfaces with a lighter colour. The raised courtyards have a light informal character. The interplay between the restored monumental buildings, the fresh new buildings and the new semi-public urban spaces will give new impetus to this city neighbourhood where residential, business and creativity have always played a role in urban dynamics.

The Keizer was completed by De Nijs in phases between 2018 and 2019. AXCO’s design for the black & white new builds on the Spuistraat was subsequently furnished by Nicemakers for luxury rental apartments.