BLOCK 7 + 9

In 25 years the new city of Almere has grown from no inhabitants to over 160,000 inhabitants. By 2010 the population is expected to grow to 250,000. This projected growth has required the creation of a new city centre. OMA’s masterplan will provide 1,000 new housing units and 2,000 parking places together with a number of essential facilities (shops, museum, library and theatre).

The new program is spread over 12 new buildings, known as ‘blocks’. Block 7/9 is a 150 meter long, 4 story building located in the north-west edge of the plan. The unique site demands an architectural and urban response that defines the borders of the centre, at the same time mediating between opposing urban conditions: old versus new city fabric, fast versus slow city movement, the lower parking level versus the raised shopping deck.

The mix of private and public functions further increases this complexity with shop fronts orientated to the shopping deck, private balconies orientated to the sun; a protective acoustic sound barrier orientated to the ring road; an open gallery orientated to Almere’s main city square; signage and advertising space for shops.

An important consideration has been to confront the diverse requirements for the elevation of Block 7 + 9 within a singular design concept. Our proposal is to wrap the building in a continuous ‘skin’- a modular system of glass and reflective steel panels. This establishes a strong, clear identity for Block 7 + 9 while at the same time allowing diversity by responding to local conditions through subtle changes in transparency, opacity and color. Like a Swiss army knife, the compact form expresses the horizontal layering within the building, ‘opening up or closing down’ depending on its use.

Location: Almere
Year: 2003
Status: Completed 2007
Site: 0.3 ha
Program: 54 dwellings 3,900 m2 commercial space
Client: Almere Hart CV: Bouwfonds MAB, Euro Woningen
Engineer: Pieters Bouwtechniek, Huygen Elwako