AMSTERDAM – With a focus on urban regeneration, local architecture firm Moke Architecten has become the latest team to make a contribution to the urban development plans in the north of Amsterdam. Until 1979, the district now known as NDSM (Netherlands dock and shipbuilding company) was an industrial location which included the docks on the north bank of the IJ river. Now, the former shipyard is being repurposed as part of a masterplan which looks to shift the district in a more urban direction.

The NDSM Nieuwdok is a mixed-use building comprising a school at the base – two storeys which form a plinth for the rest of the building – and 380 individual student flats across the upper five floors. The double level features interior ceiling heights of up to 5.6 m and is fabricated from robust concrete columns to give the appearance that it is holding up the rest of the building. On top of this, the red–brown cladding of the student residences makes a subtle link back to the industrial presence of the site’s former use, while remaining fairly low-key so as to fit in with the area’s overall plan.

One of the most significant concerns for the architect to address was the noise level from the last remaining ship dock, which was considered too loud for residential living. As such, a double glass and aluminium façade is applied on each elevation of the studio apartments to create a thermal and an acoustic layer. As well as providing further protection from the elements, the addition of the secondary layer also gives students the option to use the bay window – each individually angled to face the waterfront – while still benefitming from a reduced noise level.

A communal courtyard for the school building allows access to the first floor terrace by way of a large red staircase, manufactured from a combination of steel and aluminium. On the third floor, an additional terrace is available to residents of the studio apartments. The internal corridors – each floor a different colour – provide access to this in order to ensure privacy from the public building below. Timber flooring and picnic-style benches are used in combination with decorated exterior glass cladding to promote a calm and inviting environment.

For the moment, a lot of the surrounding area remains semi-derelict. Nonetheless, as developments continues, NDSM is becoming an evermore desirable location for residents and continues to thrive as a vibrant multicultural hotspot for events, festival, start-up companies and the creative arts.

Photos Thijs Wolzak