Exterior View - Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV

© Rob ‘t Hart

In 2003, MVRDV completed the Silodam, a polychromatic apartment building on Amsterdam harbor that was part of an extensive urban operation that transformed a former dam and silo building. A mixed program of housing, offices, workspaces, commercial spaces, and public spaces was arranged in a 20 meter deep and ten-story-high urban envelope.

Silodam Technical Information

  • Architects: MVRDV
  • Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Client: Rabo Vastgoed, Utrecht NL and De Principaal B.V, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Budget: EUR 16.8 million (EUR 861/ m2)
  • Type: Housing
  • Area: 19,500 m2  (165 dwellings)
  • Project Year: 1995-2003
  • Photographs: © Rob ‘t Hart

The economic requirements added differentiation in facade material and outside spaces. […} As a result, an unexpected sequence of semi-public routes appeared: from galleries on one side one can walk via slits and corridors to galleries on the other side and higher up. Connecting all the houses with the hall, the public balcony, the harbor, the barbeque area and garden, the library, fitness area, and toy exchange, a three-dimensional neighborhood materializes

– MVRDV Architects

Silodam Housing Block Photographs
Exterior - Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV

© Rob ‘t Hart

River View - Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV

© Rob ‘t Hart

Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV

© Rob ‘t Hart

Color Elevation - Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV

© Rob ‘t Hart

Patio - Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV

© Rob ‘t Hart

Roof top terraces - Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV

© Rob ‘t Hart

Blue Corridor

© Rob ‘t Hart

Opening to ocean - Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV

© Rob ‘t Hart

Text by the Architects

In the western part of Amsterdam harbor, an extensive urban operation has been undertaken to densify the city and to meet the demands of the market, even in one of the more vulnerable areas. A former dam with a silo building on top has been transformed into a new neighborhood that consists of a series of relatively costly components: a dam with a sunken parking lot, renovation of the old silo buildings, the required mix of less expensive social housing, the underwater protection barrier against oil tankers, the required deep piling foundation and the expensive temporary drydock constructions.

To help pay for parts of this operation, a new housing block at the end of the dam was proposed. Timing helped. The Dutch real estate boom in the nineties allowed for higher profits. By waiting for some years, additional income could be generated. How could MVRDV design a building that would wait?

The problem of a fast-changing housing market was approached with a series of different housing types. The demand for a wide variety of living spaces, on the one hand, led to different typologies but, on the other hand, as a counterbalance to the increasing individuality. A mixed program of 157 houses (for rent or sale), offices, workspaces, commercial spaces, and public spaces had to be arranged in a 20 meter deep and ten-story-high urban envelope.

The apartments differ in size, cost, and organization. To accommodate this process in time, a series of neighborhoods of 8 to 12 residences were created—blocks of apartments that surround a corridor, a garden, a gallery, and a hall. As a counter-form, these organizations lead to specific apartments: apartments with a panoramic view, with views on both sides, double-height flats, apartments with a patio, apartments with a view to the harbor. The daylight requirements caused different amounts of windows for these types. The financial obligations added differentiation in facade material and outside spaces. In time these blocks were offered for discussion. It leads to both political and economic negotiations that could span the given time. Based on a four-tower organization, these blocks could be shifted. In the political discussions, a mix had to be achieved over separations, stratification, or apartheid constellations. In the economic discussions, Gauss curves accompanied the changes in demand. Up until that moment, the discussions had to be frozen. The existing situation was maintained in place.

As a result, an unexpected sequence of semi-public routes appeared: from galleries on one side, one can walk via slits and corridors to galleries on the other side and higher up. Connecting all the houses with the hall, the public balcony, the harbor, the barbeque area and garden, the library, fitness area, and toy exchange, a three-dimensional neighborhood materializes. It became a container of houses, literally interpreting the surrounding harbor.

It is adding a 21st-century silo of houses to the next 19th- and 20th-century silos. One of the blocks contains a restaurant, pushed outside of the volume. The dam has been bent through the volume. It creates a public plaza with a panoramic view of the river. It compensates for the loss of the view at the former dam. Below the balcony, there is an office with almost the same magnificent view.

Silodam Housing Block Plans
9th Floor Plan

9th Floor | © MVRDV

2nd Floor | © MVRDV

2nd Floor | © MVRDV

Ground Floor | © MVRDV

Ground Floor | © MVRDV

Silodam Section

Section | © MVRDV

Elevation of Silodam

Elevation | © MVRDV

Silodam Housing Block Image Gallery
About MVRDV

MVRDV is a Rotterdam, Netherlands-based architecture and urban design practice founded in 1993. The name is an acronym for the founding members: Winy Maas (1959), Jacob van Rijs (1964), and Nathalie de Vries (1965).
Other works from MVRDV 

Cite this article: "Silodam Housing Block in Amsterdam / MVRDV" in ArchEyes, May 20, 2020, https://archeyes.com/silodam-housing-block-in-amsterdam-mvrdv/.