Renovation Elsevier Office Building for Student Housing, Sara Burgerhartstraat, Amsterdam. Completion Date: 2015. Contractor: N.J. de Nijs en Zonen. Architect: Knevel architecten, Amsterdam. Photographer: Leonard Fäustle. Bricks: Terca glazed bricks.
© Wienerberger B. V.

A building envelope like a second skin

architectum issue renovation

Renovation Elsevier Office Building for Student Housing, Sara Burgerhartstraat, Amsterdam. Completion Date: 2015. Contractor: N.J. de Nijs en Zonen. Architect: Knevel architecten, Amsterdam. Photographer: Leonard Fäustle. Bricks: Terca glazed bricks.
© Wienerberger B. V.

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From an office block to a student accommodation

Renovation Elsevier Office Building for Student Housing, Sara Burgerhartstraat, Amsterdam. Completion Date: 2015. Contractor: N.J. de Nijs en Zonen. Architect: Knevel architecten, Amsterdam. Photographer: Leonard Fäustle. Bricks: Terca glazed bricks.
© Wienerberger B. V.

Used products

Terca brick slips

A building envelope like a second skin

An empty 60s building in Amsterdam was transformed into exceptional student accommodation. The most challenging part of the upgrade: finding the perfect glazed façade brick.

"It wasn’t just about the mixture of bricks, but also about the colour and texture of the mortar." - Benjamin Robichon, Knevel Architecten BV.

From office block to student accommodation

A massive eleven-storey building on the outskirts of Amsterdam: The Elsevier building in the north-eastern district of Bos en Lommer was designed as an office block in 1964 and was named after the local weekly newspaper. The building lost its appeal with the construction of the ring road and the motorway and fell empty. In 2012 it was decided that the Elsevier should be renovated, refurbished and repurposed.
 
Amsterdam architecture agency Knevel Architecten took on the challenge and created student accommodation with 245 apartments over ten floors, plus an attractive ground floor with small retail units. The starting point for renovations to the façade was the original 60s design by Willem Dudok and Robert Magnée.

A strict committee

Fortunately, the main part of the Elsevier building was well preserved, and it was chiefly the gable and façade that needed renovating. The old gable consisted of prefabricated concrete elements, faced with bonded, glazed brick slips. “We had to replace those parts – it was impossible to achieve a good level of thermal insulation”, says architect Benjamin Robichon. “We also wanted to add a number of openings in the façade to let more daylight into the rooms behind it.”
 
To solve the problem of noise from the motorway, a double façade system was developed that wraps around the building like a second skin. Special effort went into choosing the perfect Hilversum-size facing brick. Robichon says, “We spent a long time looking for the right colour combination with three or four different shades, because a single colour would have produced a very monotone look.” Robichon says they tried ten prototypes before achieving a result that all members of the strict committee agreed on. “It wasn’t just about the mixture of bricks, but also about the colour and texture of the mortar”, says the architect. “We hung the prototypes next to the existing wall so that we could see whether we had achieved the right effect and began combining them.”
 
The Wienerberger Panningen Sample Library was particularly useful in this respect and helped with the complex process.
 
 

New skin with an old character

Although much of the new façade is similar to the original design, the structure of the new outer façade is very different. Timber frame components were used and clad with fibre cement panels. The glazed Terca brick slips were finally attached on site. The windows follow the rhythm of the bricks and were given dark frames that complement the façade. The building has therefore retained its original character but has been improved with modern engineering. For example, the lines between the prefabricated elements of the façade are no longer visible

Renovation Elsevier Office Building for Student Housing, Sara Burgerhartstraat, Amsterdam. Completion Date: 2015. Contractor: N.J. de Nijs en Zonen. Architect: Knevel architecten, Amsterdam. Photographer: Leonard Fäustle. Bricks: Terca glazed bricks.
© Wienerberger B. V.

Facts & Figures

Project name: Elseviergebouw | Sara Burgerhartstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

Architects   Knevel Architecten BV

Client   Woningstichting Rochdale/DUWO

Year of completion   2015

Category   Upgrade

Used products   Terca glazed brick slips

 

Renovation Elsevier Office Building for Student Housing, Sara Burgerhartstraat, Amsterdam. Completion Date: 2015. Contractor: N.J. de Nijs en Zonen. Architect: Knevel architecten, Amsterdam. Photographer: Leonard Fäustle. Bricks: Terca glazed bricks.
© Wienerberger B. V.

Terca glazed brick slips - Netherlands

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