Project De Kameleon Amsterdam
Architect: NL Architects, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Fabricator of the Facades: Lieftink, Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands
Façade Systems: Schüco International KG, Bielefeld, Germany
De Kameleon is a super sized housing block including a new shopping center and plenty of parking in the area formerly known as Bijlmermeer. The Bijlmer is the one area in the Netherlands that sometimes is considered a ghetto. At the moment, the area is going through a radical renovation process; an attempt is being made to turn it into a regular Dutch suburb. Standard low-rise housing is introduced that replaces the 10 storey apartment buildings but also the green spaces in-between them. In spite of the new format, the Bijlmer remains exotic; it is the place to be for a sensational Roti or sundried Bats.
The Bijlmer features a fantastic elevated subway track, maybe the only suitable backdrop for an R&B video in the Netherlands. De Kameleon is placed along the Karspeldreef, one of the main arteries in the area. It is quite a surprise that amidst the new ideology of the small scale such a large new building is projected.
Kameleon is organized in horizontal slices. On ground floor is the new shopping center. All shops are accessible directly from public space, there is no collective interior: Kameleon is not a Mall.
The supermarket, normally a bulky program with extensive impenetrable facades, is embedded in smaller units that as such both differentiate and activate the ‘plinth’. There is one shortcut, The Passage, at 2/3rd of the length, creating an ‘8’. The 8 is good for circulation and good for business. From here an escalator connects to the next level, continuing the 8 in the 3rd Dimension. On the 2nd floor is one more supermarket; easily accessible from the public parking on the same level.
Positioning the parking on top of the shops proofed to be cheaper than in a basement. The parking is ‘charged’ by the supermarket on one end and food court / fitness center on the other. Since these programs feature large floor to ceiling heights an extra parking level fits in. The residents will park their cars here. The facade of the parking is open to the sides allowing natural ventilation. A very large garden is placed on top of the parking. It includes 12 serious trees and a river!
The garden is surrounded by a four story housing block containing 168 apartments. The side facing the Karspeldreef is continuous to protect the garden from street noise and to create an ‘urban wall’; the other side facing the typical hexagonal green space is punctured. The gaps can be used as playgrounds and for BBQ’s. The repetitive structure makes the project affordable. The rhythmic building bays of eight meter and the parking and shopping grids correspond nicely. Every other carrying wall is extended to support the balconies and to provide privacy. The large balconies create dynamic patterns. Winding stairs lead to the garden and differentiate the large courtyard. A 10 story slab with 58 apartments rests on this flat Block. It creates a counterpoint to the horizontality and becomes a ‘billboard’ facing the subway. A supersized window visually connects the elevated subway and the elevated garden that are precisely the same height.