Apartments de Boel Amsterdam

Apartments de Boel Amsterdam

Hans van Heeswijk Architecten

De Boel, a ten-storey gallery apartment on De Boelelaan in Amsterdam Zuid, has been radically renovated. With respect for the original qualities of the building, Hans van Heeswijk Architecten transformed the outdated apartment building from 1964 into an open and transparent building of which both the tenants of the apartments and the users of the offices are proud.

In 2014 developer Vesteda bought an existing residential/office apartment on the Boelelaan at the edge of the Amsterdam Zuidas and Buitenveldert. Vesteda's aim is to lease the 154 apartments to young influentials (25-35 years old with middle incomes) and to transform the first floor into a contemporary office, where Vesteda itself is now located.  The 1964 building consists of a concrete skeleton and a brick assembly system. With a length of 160 metres and 9 floors, it is an iconic building on the border between the dynamic Zuidas and the quiet residential area of Buitenveldert. Next to it is an almost identical apartment building, which had been renovated a little earlier, where the old residents of De Boel could move into prior to the renovation. If you now see both flats next to each other, you get the impression that De Boel's previously renovated neighbour still needs to be renovated. De Boel's appearance is so modern and new.



Dick de Gunst, architect at Hans van Heeswijk architects, explains the transformation: "We have renovated De Boel for the same budget as the neighbouring apartment, but the appearance is completely different. The most important difference is the transparency. For example, by using expanded steel balustrades we have made the balconies and galleries much more transparent. The slanting placement of the fences makes the galleries appear wider and balconies larger." The ground floor and first floor have also undergone a metamorphosis. De Gunst explains how: "Glass doors open up the previously very closed ground floor. A large part of this layer now consists of parking spaces for electric BMWs, painted in bright colours, which Vesteda residents and employees share. During the day, the employees usually use the cars, while in the evening and at weekends, the residents make more use of the shared cars. The system must encourage Vesteda employees to come to work by public transport or bicycle. 


Contrasting colours

De Gunst: "With relatively cheap means such as paintwork, we can still give a very fresh look to this more than 50 year old flat, despite the limited budget. The entrance halls and stairwells are painted bright yellow, which contrasts beautifully with the black stairwells. On the outside, the two stairwells are painted in a dark grey colour, with the buildings name De Boel on it in glossy paint. The axes of the external spiral staircases are also painted in a dark colour, and the steps in white, thus reinforcing their graceful form. 

The same goes for the black support beams underneath the white galleries which, due to their contrast, bring a pleasant rhythm to the gallery façade. The end wall is decorated with a mural by artist Victor Ash with a rearing black bull against a white background. The black bull refers to the name of the flat, but is also a term for economic growth and thus also refers to the Zuidas. 

Big shop window 

By far the biggest difference is made by the full glass façades that are placed on the first floor, both on the side of the Boelelaan and on the back side. This even creates a view from the Zuidas to Buitenveldert and vice versa. In order to achieve a slender and sleek result, the architect opted for Reynaers Aluminium curtain walling system CW 50. De Gunst: "This system is a fine product, the profiles are very slim, so that there is a maximum view. The office floor is such a large shop window, exactly what we wanted. In addition, the façade has good insulation and soundproofing".



Interior design office

The office floor now has a view of the office towers of the Zuidas on the one hand and of the residential area in the greenery of Buitenveldert on the other. Vesteda has established its new head office here and rents out part of it. Architect Stephanie Haumann of Hans van Heeswijk architects explains her way of working: "After the demolition of the existing building, the potential of the space became clearly visible, with a long line of sight of 160 metres. The sturdy concrete construction with orange-coloured formwork wood was so beautiful that we left it in sight. The high space gives a loft feeling that we reinforce as much as possible in the interior design. All installation is kept separate from the hull. Closed walls run up to a maximum of 2.4 metres, above which a skylight offers a view of the loft again." 

At the four office entrances, voids have been made, surrounded by meeting and relaxation areas over the full depth of the building, such as the reception desk, visitors' lounge, a coffee bar, a sports room and a restaurant. Just as important for a fine working environment are excellent acoustic performances, Haumann assures us: "In order not to make the room too hard, both emotionally and acoustically, we have installed various upholsteries. Natural materials such as wood, rope, leather and fabric provide the softness you need to feel at home. The warm colours of sun, sand and earth support this."


In addition to the new gallery fences, the architect also designed new panels next to the front doors: the house number is engraved in it, the lighting and a doorbell are integrated. 

The 154 apartments have been made more comfortable with new kitchens and sanitary facilities. Ten houses at the head of the 9th floor have been extended upwards to include penthouses. On the 10th floor, these houses have a six-metre wide glass façade with a view of the Zuidas and a spacious private roof terrace on the sunny side. Between the penthouses an extensive communal roof garden has been realised as a meeting place for residents and employees. 

Roof garden

The communal roof garden (750 m²) offers spectacular views. The architects have also carefully designed this space. This care can be seen in the slender glass balustrades with elegant stainless steel handles, shiny ventilation pipes, tight furniture in the same wood as the terrace. The installations of the underlying houses are integrated into metal cube-shaped elements that also include lighting and sockets. 


The plants survived the dry and hot summer of 2018, thanks to the polder roof. This can buffer more than 50,000 litres of water used for irrigation of the plants. In the event of heavy rainfall, the roof will reduce the pressure on the overfilled sewage system in the Zuidas.

Keers Mijdrecht Geveltechniek
Hans van Heeswijk Architecten
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Jan Willem Schouten