UNStudio’s ‘looking glass’ façade in amsterdam mimics billowing fabric

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UNStudio has completed the renovation of a façade on the P.C. hooftstraat, an elegant shopping street in amsterdam. the avenue is home to leading international and dutch designers, flagship stores, and boutiques, including ‘crystal house’, the Hermès boutique. taking cues from nearby museums for framing dutch art, UNStudio’s design — titled ‘the looking glass’ — sets the stage for a unique and distinctive flagship store by re-imagining the display of clothes.

UNStudio’s founder and principal architect ben van berkel spoke at the 2019 world architecture festival in amsterdam. see designboom’s ongoing coverage of the event here.

conceived by UNStudio as a celebration of textiles, the façade comprises three curved glass panels that mimic billowing fabrics. in a fluid gesture, fashion and architecture come together to represent the craftsmanship and geometry of high-end, tailored clothing, creating harmony between aesthetics and function. the design team simultaneously wanted to stay faithful to the original design of an amsterdam town house, where a bespoke apartment will be housed above the retail at ground floor.

the three structural glass ‘box elements’ were assembled in a factory before being mounted on site. large laminated annealed low iron glass panels, both curved and straight, are bonded with structural silicone to the adjacent glass panels with stainless steel edge profiles in between, thus forming the glass box. each unit is then bonded to a hidden steel frame for protection and shipping purposes, before being installed as a single unit on site.

after installation, a rigid insulation layer is added on top of a GRC panel. brick slips are then glued on to the insulation layer. between the slips on the ground floor level, a metal strip is introduced to create slight differentiation from the rest of the brickwork and to meet urban requirements. 8mm wide silicon seams between the polished stainless steel edge profiles and the glass panels allow for any tolerances in the curved glass that might occur during the manufacturing process, while the steel profile protects the glass edges from damage and absorbs the transformation in geometries.

name: the looking glasslocation: P.C. hooftstraat 138, amsterdam, the netherlandsdate: 2017-2019
client: warenar real estate – warenar developed and owns ‘crystal house’, the hermes boutique building surface: retail, ca 240 sqm, residential 130 sqm program: retail facade, residential 
status: complete

architect: UNStudio — ben van berkel, astrid piber with ger gijzen, marc salemink, sontaya bluangtook and lars van hoften, pauline caubel, paul challis, tiia vahula

advisors — facade engineer: arup structural engineer: brouwer en kokexecutive architect for main construction: gietermans & van dijk architecten b.v.main contractor: wessels zeist b.v.façade contractor: octatube nederland b.v.

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Post time: Dec-12-2019
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