Valley Nurtured by Nature, Crafted for People
The dramatic, geology-inspired, plant-covered Valley designed by MVRDV stands out in Amsterdam’s Zuidas neighbourhood with its three towers of 67, 81, and 100 meters and the spectacular cantilevered apartments It combines offices, shops, catering, cultural facilities, and apartments in one building; secondly, unlike the closed-off buildings elsewhere in the Zuidas, the green valley that winds between the towers on the fourth and fifth floors is accessible to everyone via two external stone staircases. BMR showcases Valley, a marvellous project, a testament to innovation and design excellence.
Valley represents a bold endeavour to reintroduce a verdant and human touch to the otherwise stark office landscape of Amsterdam Zuidas. This architectural marvel boasts a multifaceted design, where its exterior is ensconced in a sleek mirrored glass shell, seamlessly blending into the corporate ambience of the bustling business district.
The outer visage of Valley is a testament to modernity and professionalism, with smooth mirrored glass panels reflecting the dynamic surroundings of Zuidas. This choice in construction material not only aligns with the contemporary aesthetics of the district but also symbolizes a polished, corporate image. The building, standing tall at the heart of Amsterdam's business hub, captures the essence of the fast-paced, innovative world of technology and development.
However, the true magic of Valley unfolds within its confines. Once inside, the edifice undergoes a metamorphosis, shedding its corporate exterior to unveil an interior that exudes a contrasting, welcoming natural charm. As if the glass shell has crumbled away, the interior reveals itself with craggy rock faces adorned with natural stone and lush greenery. This juxtaposition of the artificial and the organic creates a harmonious and inspiring workspace, fostering creativity and well-being among the developers who call Valley home.
The deliberate choice to incorporate elements of nature within the building serves not only an aesthetic purpose but also a functional one. The greenery and natural materials contribute to a healthier indoor environment, promoting a connection with nature that is often amiss in conventional office spaces. Valley, in essence, becomes a haven within the urban jungle, offering a retreat for developers to thrive in an environment that recognizes the importance of balance between work and nature. Valley stands as a testament to the innovative spirit of Amsterdam Zuidas, marrying the demands of a corporate setting with the innate human need for a connection to nature. It encapsulates a vision where the professional and the organic coexist, creating a workspace that not only meets the needs of developers but elevates their experience, making Valley an emblem of progressive and holistic architectural design in the heart of Amsterdam.
“Once again, MVRDV shows that dream images can be made buildable,” explains Kirsten Hannema for de Volkskrant. “Using 3D software, in which the architects entered requirements with regard to daylight, view, cooling load and noise exposure, they ‘rationalised’ the design. The irregularly shaped facades eventually have about ten different angles, with the natural stone cladding fitted together like a puzzle.”
Various locations throughout the three-tower complex offer breathtaking views of the city – the apartments, of course, but especially the sky bar at the top of the tallest tower, which visitors can access via the Molteni flagship store on the ground floor. The building’s layout is tailored to a mixture of residents, workers, and visitors: on top of the three-storey underground car park, offices occupy the lower seven floors, with apartments located on the eighth floor and up. The grotto is connected to the outside by two large skylights that double as shallow water pools in the valley level above, and its natural stone flooring, walls, and ceilings – the same stone used on the surfaces of the valley and towers – make clear that all the public areas of the building are part of the same geological formation.
The intricately designed structure demanded an exceptional dedication to meticulous detailing, amplifying the essence of the design concept. MVRDV's team of technology experts demonstrated their prowess by developing a suite of custom digital tools tailored to refine every aspect of the building. Among these innovative tools was a specialized program meticulously crafted to guarantee optimal light and scenic views for each apartment. This not only underscored the commitment to resident well-being but also showcased a forward-thinking approach to architecture, integrating technology to enhance the living experience.
Furthermore, the architects employed a groundbreaking program specifically designed to achieve the seemingly random pattern embellishing the building's façades. Comprising over 40,000 stone tiles of varied sizes, this intricate mosaic required a precise yet seemingly spontaneous arrangement. MVRDV's technology experts rose to the challenge, demonstrating their ability to marry creativity with cutting-edge solutions. The result was a visually stunning exterior that seamlessly blended meticulous planning with an element of randomness, creating a unique and captivating aesthetic.
The deployment of these custom digital tools not only highlighted MVRDV's technical prowess but also underscored their commitment to pushing the boundaries of conventional architectural practices. By embracing technology to address challenges related to lighting, views, and intricate design elements, MVRDV showcased an innovative and adaptive approach that sets a new standard in the realm of architectural excellence. In essence, the fusion of creativity and technology in the development of these digital tools exemplifies MVRDV's dedication to elevating architectural design, ensuring that each facet of the building, from its internal functionality to its external aesthetic, reflects a harmonious blend of artistry and technological ingenuity.
Landscape architect Piet Oudolf developed a matrix to select the right plants for each location in the building, taking into account factors such as wind, sunlight, temperature, and maintenance. In the coming years, the building will mature into the lush appearance of the design team’s vision as the greenery continues to grow. The biodiversity of this landscape is further supported by bird- and bat boxes as well as various bee and insect hotels.
Maintained using an automatic irrigation system and by “façade gardeners”, the trees and plants on the terraces will positively affect the well-being of people living and working in Valley. It combines insights in the fields of sustainability, technology, and health. The latest smart technologies are integrated into office spaces, including IP-based Building Automation Systems and various sensors linked to monitoring actual usage.
Firm Name: MVRDV
Project Name: Valley
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands Year:
Size: 75,000 sq m
Sustainability certification: BREEAM-NL Excellent (commercial spaces)
Architect & Principal in charge: MVRDV and Winy Mass
Photo Credits: Ossip van Duivenbode