Memphis is back. The interior of the Domus Houthaven apartment complex is full of colors and prints; it is a contrast to the industrial character of the nine towers. This is the best of the newer resorts with partial facilities.
Light blue kitchens, dark green bookcases, green glazed tiles (with white grout) and red laminate with a fictitious wood grain: Memphis is back and how. The postmodern wave that swept through the Netherlands 35 years ago seemed almost forgotten, but at Domus Houthaven it determines the interiors. It’s an ode to color and print, a colorful carnival that makes you instantly happy. For those who don’t (no longer) know: Alessandro Mendini’s Groninger Museum is a culmination of this postmodern movement.
The interiors of Houthavenweg’s 235 micro apartments and studios contrast with the rugged and somewhat industrial exterior. Robust is the family of nine buildings, each in its own brick, warm yellow, rust brown, gray white and speckled color. Domus is a welcome departure from Houthaven’s fussy persona, where it’s mostly parody or pastiche of the Amsterdam School. Domus alludes more to port architecture.
Small stacked houses
Shift Architecture and Urbanism and developer Synchroon planted a complex of towers of varying heights. Since 2014, Domus has been tinkered with based on the idea that mini-houses can also be stacked. After all, they take up a lot of space when freestanding. Tenants have access to collective facilities such as a large living room adjoining the workplace, a laundry room, a kitchen workshop with a roof terrace, a guest bedroom, a nursery, a parking lot for shared cars and, at the future, a coffee. The rent starts at 1400 euros. The smallest studio is 43 square meters, the largest is 60 square meters. The central plaza is a spacious interior garden with height differences by Flux Landscape Architects. The fact that the flat roof is full of solar panels has become a permanent feature of today’s architecture.
The 43 square meter apartment stands out for its inventive use of space. The cupboards go up to the ceiling, there are fittings above the toilet tank and the living room can be transformed into a bedroom in the evening in no time, because the double bed is in a storage bed. Nice and comfortable, but maybe a little stuffy for tall people. A floor-to-ceiling window — with views of the Minervahaven — contributes to the space. Wherever you stand or walk in Domus, Amsterdam appears everywhere.
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The concept of large residential buildings with shared facilities has been a proven formula in recent years. But in fact, this also happens in the building history of Amsterdam. The new house on Roelof Hartplein already had a central kitchen and separate rooms and there are other examples: Huize Lydia on the same square and Jan Rietveld’s Westereindflat in Slotermeer. The Student Hotel on Wibautstraat, OurDomain near AMC, Karsp near Hondsrugpark, Lieven near Delflandplein, are full of complexes where residents can move from their micro-apartment to a communal space. So singles, divorcees, or the elderly can still live in a city that is effectively locked down when it comes to housing. Sharing is the answer to this, with the underlying idea that loneliness can be fought in this way.
Does it work ? The living room fills with residents working on their laptops and perhaps having a somewhat noisy online chat. It is therefore not only a question of sharing but also of choosing. Shift’s architecture is at the service of the concept, not immediately overwhelming but efficient and cuddly: the colored brick extends into the stairwells and the spacious corridors are covered in smooth concrete. There is always and everywhere a window that overlooks the harbor and the Spaarndammerbuurt.
Of these complexes with partial facilities, Domus is certainly the friendliest and, above all, the neatest. We want to live there. What could have been better is the orientation. There are four entrances and nine towers. Visitors to local residents will find it very difficult to orient themselves – and here and there (for example at the bridge over the courtyard) you will have to overcome the vertigo. But finally the destination is reached (hopefully).
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