The Whale

Ertskade, Baron G.A. Tindalplein
Frits van Dongen, Adriaan Mou, Pero Puljiz
de Architekten Cie.
Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij New Deal
Heijmans Bouw
Bus 42, 326, tram 10, stop Lloydplein
Marlies Buurman, Maarten Kloos (red.), Amsterdamse Architectuur 2000-02, Amsterdam, 2003, p.72-75 Anne Hoogewoning, Roemer van Toorn, Piet Vollaard, Arthur Wortmann, Jaarboek Architectuur in Nederland 2000-2001. Rotterdam 2001

One of the meteorites was ‘The Whale’, designed by the architect Frits van Dongen of the architectural office Architecten.cie. The sloping roofline and the use of zinc façade panels, as well as the location on an island, does indeed arouse associations with a fish, even if a whale does not have scales.
The internal programme comprised 214 apartments, with two thirds social housing, sufficient work space and an underground parking facility the size of a football pitch. Van Dongen’s brief was, with a limited budget, to house this extensive programme in a large block and, at the same time, design a building that ‘worked’ at street level.

In order to provide the lowermost storey with direct sunlight, the building was raised. As a result, the inner garden courtyard is visible from street level, and so functions as a (semi-) public space.

With its striking roofline, The Whale is very much a landmark. The course of the sun determined the building’s form, so that the sun’s highest position towards sunset is level with the building’s roofline.

The Whale has received international acclaim, but in an interview Frits van Dongen has said that he regarded the words of a young girl as the greatest compliment: she found the building small but also very large; alluding to the scale of The whale as a landmark on Borneo-Sporenburg and the view at street level. (Arcam, Amanda Terpstra)