Silodam is prominently located on Amsterdam’s waterfront. From the distance, its colorful, rectangular form can be easily mistaken for a stack of shipping containers reminiscent of a time when Amsterdam’s port was more active as an industrial dock. Its name is, in fact, a reference to the 19th and 20th-century silos that still exist on the site (and have recently been converted into housing).
The building stands in stark contrast to Amsterdam's traditional housing - tall, narrow canal homes. At 400 feet long, 65 feet wide, and 10 stories high, its dimensions suggest a large monolithic block, but it is the diversity of colors and materials on the exterior that begin to reveal the intricacies hidden within.
The building contains 157 apartments, offices and public spaces. MVRDV’s primary ambition with this project was to offer buyers a great deal of choice in their living arrangement. Despite its simple exterior shape, the building offers a high degree of diversity in apartment size and configuration. The apartments vary in their width, from 20 to 50 feet; in depth from half the width of the building to the full width; and in height, which ranges from one story to a three-story loft. Further diversity is provided through the interior arrangements, means of access, and availability of a private exterior space: balconies, patios, or rooftop terraces.
To give some sense of organization and scale, the building was broken down into four large sections and the apartments were further grouped into “neighborhoods” of between four and ten units of the same type. The interesting expression of colors and materials on the facades are meant to reflect the interior arrangement by giving each neighborhood a different exterior treatment. The interior hallways are also color-coded for each neighborhood.
MVRDV’s initial plan for Silodam included a variety of communal and public spaces to complement the residential component. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints many of those spaces were removed from the plan. Three notable remnants of that plan still remain. The most notable is a large wooden terrace designed for both residents and members of the public. It can be accessed by climbing the large wooden stairs that pass through one of the centre sections of the building. The other communal spaces are the marina located under the wooden stairs and the “crow’s nest” - a large, two-story space on the tenth floor which provides spectacular views of the river.
MVRDV have become known for their innovative approaches to housing, particularly high-density living. This project, like many of their others, uses standard building techniques to produce a cost-effective and original response to the needs of the contemporary city.
Jeff Jerome 2009
How to visit
Like most things in Amsterdam, Silodam is easily accessible by car, bicycle and public transit.
From Centraal Station it takes about 20 minutes to reach Silodam on foot. For public transit users, bus 48 departs from Centraal Station and stops less than 250 meters from the building.
Silodam is a private residence and is ordinarily not open to the public. It is possible to book visits to the building. Visits must be booked two weeks in advance. Further information is available at www.silodam.org or email email@example.com.
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