Wooden construction rises high in Amsterdam with Patch22
Timber construction is certainly de rigeur among global architecture communities at present. From Moscow to Vancouver and beyond, the rise of wood-based architecture continues with fresh builds emerging seemingly every day.
Amsterdam is home to one of the latest high-rise wooden buildings to be built. Patch22, a residential development on the city’s outskirts, is The Netherlands tallest timber building. Set over 7 storeys, Patch22 features innovation from roof to cellar.
Patch22 is clad with beautiful, pale wood. Of course, this being a timber building, its supportive structures are also constructed using wooden building elements. A 30m high load bearing structure, containing columns, beams and walls, all made of wood, keeps things together.
An Amsterdam-based project team, featuring architects Tom Frantzen, Karel Van Eijken and Laura Reinders, was behind Patch22’s design, including its intriguing fire-safety workarounds. Wood, of course, is known for being flammable but to meet fire regulations, the architects simply designed Patch22’s support elements doubly thick. If a fire should breakout, outer layers can protect structurally vital woods by charring for up to 120 minutes.
Patch22’s apartments, empty when sold, feature completely open plans for the utmost versatility. However, spacious interiors is not all each unit offers in terms of customisation. Patch22 has a trick up its sleeve, or, more accurately, beneath its floorboards.
Hollow floors mean any installations or appliances can be moved as desired, including pipes, by just removing the top layer. Individual floor plans can be crafted at will by Patch22’s occupants. They can also be modified over the years, should those living there desire to change their personal internal layouts.
On a more civic scale, a new lease agreement between the building’s owners and Amsterdam city cancel reveals more transferable aspects. Patch22 can be switched from housing to offices should the need arise. High ceilings, measuring 3.5 metres, anticipate any changes from residential to commercial use.
As we’ve seen in other wooden buildings, such as Moscow’s Good Wood Plaza, Patch22 is packed with eco-friendly features. Their inclusion ensures that it is energy neutral. Solar panels on the roof provide electrical power, while heating is provided via a carbon-neutral system. Compressed wooden pellets are used as fuel. Patch22’s designers also mention that the use of wood throughout ensures as much carbon dioxide is captured as possible, improving its energy performance.
Interestingly, it is Patch22’s green credentials that won its creators the initial tender in 2009. Amsterdam city council tendered out for a building for the Buiksloterham district at this time. Rather than being judged on perspective financial bids, entries were to be judged on their suitability. Evidently, Patch22 scored top honours and now stands pride of place amidst Amsterdam’s winding canals.
Architecturally, Patch22 is certainly easy on the eye. A series of rectangular volumes gently cantilever over one another, creating an effect akin to a stack of books, carefully piled up and waiting to be read. The wooden-clad volumes is perched atop a glass structure, whose glazing combines a cold counterpoint to the warmth of Patch22’s natural timbers.
Balconies feature on the south side of the building. Each has been widened to be between 2-2.4m wide to act as an extension of the interiors. Some residents have even installed bathtubs on their balcony, taking this philosophy further. A thin single sheet of glass windscreens each balcony, ensuring climates on balconies are substantially milder than outside conditions.
Patch22 continues the modern phenomenon of taking timber and reframing it in a modern context for impressive results. Importantly, buildings such as this represent a new model of sustainable architecture, paving the way for greener future building practices.
Images: © Luuk Kramer
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