Plan van Gool

Het Hoogt, Het Laagt, Bovenover, Benedenlangs
F.J. van Gool
Oyevaar, Stolle, Van Gool
Dienst Stadsontwikkeling, Gemeente Amsterdam
Bus 32, halte Nieuwe Purmerweg +5 min. lopen

Creative living

The housing complex was built between 1962 and 1968 to a design by the architect Frans van Gool, as a result of which it soon became known as ‘Plan van Gool’. More than a thousand dwellings, with a great diversity of dwelling types, were to be built on a vacant site in Amsterdam Noord.

Initially, three architects, Frans van Gool, Aldo van Eyck and Jaap Bakema, were invited to present a proposal. Van Eyck pulled out and the schemes by Van Gool and Jaap Bakema were diametrically opposed. Bakema wanted to give expression to the plan’s complexity – with large numbers of highly diverse dwellings – in a development with varied building heights. Van Gool – whose plan was eventually chosen – devised a scheme in which the complexity was, by contrast, concealed. The diversity of the dwellings behind the fa├žade would not be evident on the exterior.

The departure point for Van Gool was a large garden in which there was a balanced composition of highrise. The ensemble comprises five-storey blocks of flats that meander over the site. The facades are glazed, framed by slender concrete columns. The dwellings are accessed via galleries on the ground floor and on the third floor. The individual blocks are interconnected by aerial walkways that are reminiscent of the aviobridges at Schiphol Airport, which is also one of Gool’s projects. Together with the convex balcony balustrades, they ’embellish’ the complex and give it its distinctive identity. With this project, Van Gool embraced repetition and anonymity as qualities that are part and parcel of living in an urban environment.

On its completion, Het Breed attracted mainly middle-class residents, young academics, artists and designers, which resulted in a vibrant, trendy neighbourhood. The question is what the future of Het Breed will be like without the radical renovation and whether the vibrancy of the past can be revived. (ARCAM/FG)