29 april, 2016 | Door Dimitry
Dutch Design firm MVRDV recently completed the Crystal Houses, a renovated boutique flagship store in Amsterdam with an entirely transparent glass facade that’s “stronger than concrete.”
The new flagship store combines both Dutch heritage and international architecture on the PC Hooftstraat, Amsterdam’s one and only luxury brand street that was previously primarily residential.
MVRDV wanted to make a representation of the original buildings and found a solution through an extensive use of glass. The near full-glass façade mimics the original design, down to the layering of the bricks and the details of the window frames, but is stretched vertically to comply with updated zoning laws and to allow for an increase in interior space. Glass bricks stretch up the façade of Crystal Houses, eventually dissolving into a traditional terracotta brick façade for the apartments (as stipulated in the City’s aesthetics rules), which appears to be floating above the shop floor.
Creating the Crystal Houses’ impressive glass facade was no easy task. A big group of craftsman worked everyday for a whole year to research and develop the first-of-its-kind glass construction. The team explored a variety of methods and tools such as high-tech lasers, laboratory grade UV-lamps, and even Dutch full-fat milk, which was used as a reflective surface for the leveling of the first layer of bricks.
The architects believe the technology offers a solution to the loss of local character in city centres around the world, many of which are now dominated by plain glass shopfronts.
One of the main advantages is that the material is completely recyclable. During the installation, several imperfect bricks were melted down and remoulded – in fact, the entire facade could be reformed in the future.
Photography is by Daria Scagliola and Stijn Brakkee.