More than the sum of its parts, De Puls embodies a new vision of city life. The Amsterdam development unites an urban forest with a state-of-the-art office tower, a high-quality residential building and public facilities including cafés and restaurants, cinema and supermarket. The fully integrated design from MVSA, VMX and DELVA for VORM Development was the winning concept in the competition for a new 56,000m2 ‘gateway’ to the city’s Kenniskwartier (‘knowledge quarter’). On the new square of Station Zuid, De Puls forms the entrance to this area which is located between the VU Medical Center, Zuidas business district, the A10 motorway and the neighbourhood of Buitenveldert. Construction starts in 2021.
The City of Amsterdam set high standards for the new development, from the quality of the homes to circularity and sustainability, urban nature, mobility and public facilities. De Puls meets all these requirements. Until now, the Zuidas location has featured mainly separate office and residential towers. De Puls blurs these functions and adds leisure and public facilities – while also making space for nature. The development creates a common ground for all the users of the location, from workers, residents and cinema visitors to plants, trees and wildlife. The goal is to bring more life – in every sense of the word – to this corner of the city.
The development consists of two towers – one office, one residential – atop a plinth that joins them and houses the leisure functions. On top of the plinth, and between the two towers, there is an urban forest at a height of 35 metres above the ground, complete with 8-metre-high native species of trees. This space is devoted to nature, and forms part of a green corridor linking the city’s two largest green areas, the Amstelscheg and the Amsterdamse Bos.
The two towers have been designed with the concept of ‘somewhere and anywhere’ in mind. The residential tower, by VMX Architects, illustrates ‘somewhere’: the local qualities of Amsterdam. It channels the architecture of the Amsterdam School with its brick façade and sculptural forms, created by stacked and staggered volumes. MVSA’s office tower, on the other hand, is an ‘anywhere’ icon: the kind of office building you might find in any metropolis, with its sharp profile, gleaming façade and top-of-the-range facilities.
Together, the two towers of De Puls add a new architectural impulse to the area, which is typified by rectangular blocks. Instead, the towers of De Puls present two very different yet complementary structures: slim, angular, sculptural and all-sided, adding visual as well as programmatic liveliness to the area.
In line with the aims of the whole development, our office tower is sustainable. We found a way to integrate solar panels into the façade without distracting from the aesthetic appeal of the building, by angling the windows so that the solar panels remain invisible from the ground. This solution also has the advantage of creating natural shade. The angular façade design also avoids creating a wind-tunnel effect on the street below. The design uses a sustainable new material, a composite made from recycled plastic bottles.
Inside the office tower, the ground floor houses public facilities. Rather than a corporate lobby, there are bars and cafés, in surroundings filled with light and greenery, that are open to all. Upstairs, 24 office floors feature light, open spaces with round concrete columns, open ceilings and sweeping views. Some of the office floors measure 3,000m2, making them the largest open-plan offices in the Netherlands. The office floors are served by double-decker lifts, meaning that movement through the building is more efficient, and allowing the architects to keep the core of the building compact. Underground, a parking garage accommodates electric vehicles only.
The complex will be sustainable in energy terms and will encourage the use of public transport, bicycles and electric vehicles. Homes will vary from affordable rentals to three-storey penthouses, ensuring greater resident diversity in the area. The urban forest not only contributes to biodiversity; it also provides a range of vital ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, heat reduction, storm-water mitigation and air-quality improvement. De Puls therefore future-proofs the city in several essential ways.