Behind the under-construction Canyon, recently-completed Grotius Towers, and last year’s Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen project, the three-tower scheme represents one of the firm’s larger and more significant works of recent vintage.
Featuring a cantilevered series of terraces and vertical forests designed by Piet Oudolf, the 75,000-square-meter (807,000-square-foot) development is meant as a stimulus to the otherwise bland Zuidas business district and includes an open fourth and fifth floor Green Valley, boutique ground-level retail and cultural offerings, and a covered grotto that further connects the public to what founding partner Winy Maas called a “first step towards transforming this part of Amsterdam into a greener, denser, and more human city.”
A total of 271 young trees and 13,500 small local plants were placed using a matrix that Oudolf designed and will mature as the building itself ages, evolving into a more lush and verdant building that positively impacts the health of its users. Valley is similar to the visually-complex Nieuw Bergen housing scheme in Eindhoven and recently took home first place at this year’s Emporis Skyscraper Awards.
MVRDV shares: “Valley is an attempt to bring a green and human dimension back to the inhospitable office environment of Amsterdam Zuidas. It is a building with multiple faces; on the outer edges of the building is a shell of smooth mirrored glass, which fits the context of the business district. Inside this shell, the building has a completely different, more inviting natural appearance, as if the glass block has crumbled away to reveal craggy rock faces inside replete with natural stone and greenery.”
“The enormously complex shape required a special commitment to fine detailing that further enhances the design concept. MVRDV’s technology experts created a series of custom digital tools to perfect the building, from a tool that ensured every apartment had adequate light and views, to a program that made possible the apparently random pattern of over 40,000 stone tiles of varying sizes that adorn the building’s façades. Each of the 198 apartments has a unique floorplan, made possible by the interior designs by Heyligers Architects. And the outlandish cantilevers of the towers are possible thanks to innovative engineering, including eleven steel ‘specials’ bolted to the concrete building that take the overall appearance to the next level.”
MVRDV achieved a BREEAM-NL Excellent certification on the project and says the building’s energy performance rates 30% higher than what local law requires. Maas said his team did not want to create a “one-note business center” — what they accomplished in the end is a sustainable building that condenses many of their standby design elements into a well-orchestrated and enlivening form.