Student housing

H. Hertzberger
Tj. Hazewinkel
Metro, tram 9 en 14 stop Waterlooplein

What is special about the block of student flats on Weesperstraat is that it represents a turning point in the history of architecture and urban planning in two respects.

Urbanisticallly, the building is part of a series of large volumes that were constructed on the eastern side of the new, widened Weesperstraat from the early sixties onwards. Part thus of an operation which was to be the last of its kind, for never again would a charming, historic street be completely demolished. Architecturally, the building marks an important transition in the work of Herman Hertzberger. As a student, together with fellow student T. Hazewinkel, Hertzberger won the competition for this building, with a design that was not particularly remarkable.

Hertzberger later worked up the design at a time when, as secretary of the editorial board of the magazine Forum, he came under the influence of the ideas of his older colleague Aldo van Eyck. A number of features, which were later to be characteristic of his architecture, are partly due to this: the open and thus highly accessible ground floor, with functions that are emphatically geared to urban life (a restaurant, for example) and the ‘living street’ halfway up the building. As a result, from the outset the building was both an affirmation of the new situation following the urban clearance, and an example of the desire for a situation with greater intimacy. (ARCAM)