De Wolkenkrabber (‘The Skyscraper’)

Victorieplein 45
J.F. Staal
Tram 5, 24; bus 15
Maaike Behm, Maarten Kloos (ed.), 25 Buildings you should have seen - Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2002.

High-rise residential building

The first highrise housing project in the Netherlands stands at a point where three imposing roads meet in the Plan Zuid district designed by H.P. Berlage in 1917. The tower, together with a statue of Berlage who was the teacher of Staal, also stands in line with an important visual axis in this plan area. The eleven-storey tower was nicknamed The Skyscraper because it rises far above the surrounding blocks of housing. The latter were built in Amsterdam School style and are generally five storeys in height.

Berlage had projected a more traditional monumental building for this prominent location. Staal, however, succeeded in incorporating some contemporary architectural trends into his design despite holding onto older ideas. Each upper floor of the tower block contains two luxury six-room apartments. The ground floor and the lower annexes provide commercial spaces.

The tower is symmetrical in general design, with two sides mirroring each other on either side of the central section containing the stair well. Staal employed building materials characteristic of early Dutch Functionalism – concrete, steel and glass – but chose yellow brick for the facade. The yellow colour is now again visible in its full glory following a renovation in the mid 1990s. When completed, the Skyscraper was exceptional in the modernity of its amenities such as domestic waste chutes, central heating, speaking tubes, an electric bell system and a lift. (ARCAM/JV)