At the heart of Amsterdam nightlife, the bustling Leidseplein is due to undergo a pedestrianised makeover, including a new Grand Café Heineken Hoek to replace the old, outdated building on the corner of the square. In order to give the building the necessary presence for it’s high-profile location and its new life as a landmark café and four-star hotel, we designed a spectacular facetted façade based on the glittering surfaces of a cut diamond.
Caransa Groep B.V.
Heineken Nederland B.V.
Our façade concept has a symbolic significance. In Amsterdam’s past, diamond cutting played a prominent role, and the industry remains a popular tourist draw in the city. Our design was inspired by one particular gem, the famous Koh-i-Noor (‘mountain of light’) stone, which was recut by the Amsterdam diamond merchant Mozes Coster for the British royal family in 1852. Our design thus links directly with Amsterdam’s past and with one of its key associations – endowing the landmark building with a civic importance.
Our design is actually for a double façade, an inner wall and a 574m 2 glass second skin. The inner wall consists of sheet panels in aluminium in a triangular pattern in three different depths, creating a subtle relief effect. The same materials, colour and pattern extend to the roof treatment. The transparent outer skin is formed by glass triangles which are set at different angles. By day, the inner and outer facetted surfaces create a coruscating play of light and shadow. At night, the skin is beautifully illuminated from within by energy-efficient LED lighting.
Each glass panel is an isosceles triangle with the two equal sides measuring 1.2m. These triangles are mounted on points which are made of polished stainless-steel mirror. The points have three different depths, meaning that each triangle has a different combination of angles on its three sides. This system, which we developed with Octotube Engineering, means that the design is characterised by a subtle yet striking degree of random variation, created by a software algorithm. In fact, there are so many potential combinations that virtually every triangle has its own unique set of angles.
Our façade uses only the clearest glass in order to enhance the sunlit reflections resulting from the play of its endlessly varied angles. A particular challenge of the design was to minimise the steel construction: this was a building-code requirement as well as an aesthetic one. Our solution therefore employs slender steel cables to support the glass skin, greatly enhancing the impression of lightness.