AMSTERDAM – Native Amsterdammers like to stress how up-and-coming the northern part of town is. From my own experience, I have noted that it is far more on the coming side than up.  A few spots close to NDSM wharf, a derelict shipyard, are experiencing the charismatic state of pre-gentrification with bricolage cafés and creative spaces popping out of rusty grounds.

Although brands like MTV and Red Bull have their European headquarters here, a general hipness or commerciality has not spread yet. The rest of Noord looks sleepy, occasionally stirred by social housing and high-rise apartment blocks. It could be more charming.

The IKC Zeven Zeeën is an unusual sight in this environment. With a crenelated shed roof and a double prefabricated concrete façade in bright red with a textured surface, it often gets used for fashion photo shoots after working hours. Round windows in various sizes add the playfulness expected from a centre for kids, especially when the beetle-like sunshades are out. On the inside, a wooden interior makes the case for nature and softness.

Besides its aesthetic qualities, the building convinces with substance. It is one of the first energy-neutral facilities for children. The high ceilings with mostly northern light naturally soothe daytime heat, and the roof is equipped with 324 PV-panels.

Considering the proximity to Noorderpark and Het’Twiske with canals and lush greenery, the sparse concrete-loaded outdoor spaces can be accepted. 

Photos Moke Architeckten / Thijs Wolzak