The Wall Street of Amsterdam goes by many names, but it is mostly known as the ‘Financial Mile’. Housing offices of many of the world's large corporations and the most crucial companies in the Netherlands, Zuidas (or Amsterdam-Zuid) has been designated for further development for the grandest of buildings.
NoMA House is one of the more recent buildings to be built and is home to many different businesses, most notably, Kraft-Heinz. The building has been designed with elegance and sustainability in mind, with the designers finding a mix between the two despite then potentially being at opposite ends of a consumerist spectrum. Externally, natural marble has been clad to the outside. Internally energy efficiency techniques are in use, as well as a wide use of greenery in a central courtyard and on the roof.
The Rock is one of the more controversial buildings in the Financial Mile, not for any kind of construction or its current inhabitants, but that not many people like it. It is considered by many to be one of the ugliest buildings in the Netherlands. Putting this widely accepted opinion aside, it provides an alternative look at construction, this can be strongly linked with its name. The Rock is designed to give a perspective of a rock floating in the sky, this is created by using charcoal-like stone at the summit, and reflective and blue tinted glass underneath.
Obscure angles also play with our perception of how buildings should look, giving The Rock a more natural look, despite it being made almost entirely from man-made materials. The building stands at 90 meters tall with a total of 24 floors inside. Not only is The Rock designed to look like a floating stone, but also to look top-heavy. The physical play on opinions as it were, making a building seem like something it shouldn’t be.
Viñoly Tower gets its name from its architect, Rafael Viñoly, who is originally from Uruguay, but has many buildings all over the globe. His Amsterdam tower stands at 95 metres tall and again, (like The Rock) has a look that would not normally be associated with architecture. The spirally staircase around the tower draw the viewers attention to the summit, and towards the sky. The aluminium ‘fins’ around the building give it a dynamic and ever changing appearance as well, being of different lengths and widths through forced perspective.
Just next door to the Financial Mile in Amsterdam is the majority of the Vrije Universitaet Medical Centre (VUmc). This is host to many medical professionals and students who deal with the developing end of medical treatments. This building is one of the first purpose built constructions on the campus, and is entirely dedicated to human health and life sciences.
There is an external focus of the building, not just in treating the world’s population, but also in its energy efficiency. By using water from a nearby lake to cool the building down and a plant roof for insulation and water retention. Two opposing corners of the building are cut out, meaning that light is provided all day to the central courtyard and all rooms facing it.
The Cancer Centre, predictably, works towards innovative developments in cancer treatment. Some amazing innovations have come through the staff and students the work in this building. The majority of patients are diagnosed within 48 hours of admission, this is their exact cancer type. As well as a claim that the staff are able to diagnose a cancer type with 97% accuracy from just a single drop of blood.
The VUmc was founded in 1964 and became part of the Vrije Universitaet Amsterdam (VU). Many of its buildings focus of tutoring the next generations of medical professionals by putting them through mock-up and real-life scenarios. The campus also functions as a working hospital to a select few patients, giving the students a true experience of medical work. Located alongside one of the main transport connections, A10 motorway, as well as a main train line to Centraal Station and Schiphol Airport, the hospital serves the residents of the city with great efficiency and care.
The main recovery ward, shown above, has a strong focus on providing the care the students are taught to give alongside medical practice. This focus is also visible in the architecture here, most of the rooms facing onto green spaces and a man-made lake directly outside. The transport connections also giving people a visual connection to the capital city just up the road. The campus’ core value in patient care is throughout all the treatment centres and experimental departments, putting patients first.
We finish our trip along the Financial Mile back at the main purpose of the area, in housing business service companies. ING House goes by many different names including: the shoe, the grasshopper, and the portable vacuum cleaner (my personal favourite). Despite all of the analogies being completely different, they are all correct. They also have something strongly in common, they are all things that wouldn’t normally be compared to a building.
Now home to Lexence Advocaten (lawyers), after originally being solely for ING insurance, the structure is supported entirely by its ‘legs’. The scale of engineering here is phenomenal, having an obscure design that also dwarves the size of many buildings around. In contrast to the building looking comical, it is still very memorable and unique.