Paul de Ruiter

The Polderblok

Environmentally sustainable, nature-inclusive apartment building on the Polderweg

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Paul de Ruiter Architects are constructing a 54-unit apartment building for rental tenancies in Amsterdam’s Oostpoort neighbourhood, just off the tail end of the Middenweg. The site, Polderweg 1, was earmarked for development by the municipality of Amsterdam, and the building’s construction was commissioned by CBRE Investment Management. The apartments will come in a range of sizes, and are designed to be energy-positive, meet the highest environmental standards and promote biodiversity through the workings of a unique green concept.

Housing, Energy producing

Bridging the architectural gap
Oostpoort is a lively and dynamic district with a rich mix of architectural styles and housing types. The new building, named the Polderblok, will therefore constitute part of a row of existing buildings along the Polderweg, each with its own unique style. To illustrate: on one side of the under-construction Polderblok lies the local police station, a solid, cube-like brick building with a grid of rectangular windows. On the other lies the Montessori College building by Anton Herzberger, with its recessed façade and horizontal articulation. The Polderblok’s design allows it to act as a sort of architectural bridge between these neighbouring buildings, thereby making a cohesive whole of the lot.

A variety of households under one roof
The Polderblok is designed to accommodate families, single parent households, pensioners and young, first-time renters. Consequently, the apartments will come in a range of types and sizes, to accommodate the varying needs of these different households. At the heart of the Polderblok is a communal courtyard complete with splash pad, while the lobby serves double duty as a communal lounge.

Stepped and U-shaped
The building is stepped and u-shaped in structure, and features four levels on the side overlooking the Polderweg, rising to six on the side overlooking the Linneusplantsoen. Its corners are the result of careful consideration: for instance, the entrance to the bicycle storage facility has been located on the corner facing the police station, while the eastern entrance features an open corner with a view of the secluded green world within. The facade is distinguished by an interplay of horizontal and vertical sections that derive their inspiration from the adjacent buildings and emphasize the layering aesthetic of the building’s design by means of facade-integrated vegetation.

A new approach to nature-inclusive design
The design process invited the active participation of local residents, who voiced a common desire: more neighbourhood greenery, please. To fulfil their wish, we made the balance between nature and architecture the touchstone of our design, formulating the challenge in the question: “How do you build something in which people continue to feel at home as nature takes its course?” Merely incorporating climbing plants or nesting boxes wouldn’t do the trick, so we got together with DS landschapsarchitecten and De Dakdokters to find ways to deliver on our promise.

a clever planting scheme will facilitate a varied facade pattern resembling a living and ever-changing green patchwork quilt.

A green world via a new way of using climbing plants
Our incorporation of abundant greenery offers many benefits: it makes the building a healthier and more pleasant environment, it raises the building’s ecological value, and it boosts the biodiversity of Oostpoort as a whole.
The most reliable and lasting way we found to cover the building in vegetation was to use climbing plants grown from deep trays of our own design. The plants will climb along a grid of thin wire mesh, which will be stretched in a pattern that varies according to the section of the facade and determines the vines’ direction of growth. We devised a clever planting scheme to facilitate a varied facade pattern of natural and manmade surface elements, the result of which resembles a living and ever-changing green patchwork quilt.
In addition to the above benefits, climbing plants provide shelter and food for birds and insects, filter sunlight, reduce noise pollution and purify the air by absorbing dust particles and carbon dioxide. The orientation of the facades and the different heights favoured by the various birds and insects will result in each side of the building having its own distinctive character.
To ensure enough openings for the admission of daylight and permission of views, we either routed the wire mesh around the windows or used mesh of a different gauge for the protruding bay windows. The vines receive water via the roof, where rainwater is harvested and fed to the plants through a special drainage system.

Green inner sanctum
While the Polderblok’s facade is designed to fit the building to its urban context and meet the locals’ need for a greener, nature-inclusive environment, our main concern with the courtyard was the quality of life of the building’s inhabitants. This green inner sanctum is a secure space that can be sealed off from the outside world, and comes with a splash pad and a section for gardening. It is a secluded world designed to facilitate its small community’s peace of mind, relaxation and social interaction.

Project details


Address Polderweg 1, Amsterdam
Total floor area 3.650 m2 + bicycle storage facility
Project description 54 affordable rental appartements
Start of design August 2018
Start of construction Spring 2020
Completion 2021
Sustainability Energy positive


Client CBRE Investment Management
Project architect Paul de Ruiter & Noud Paes
Project team Joris Korbee, Sander Bakker, Milda Kulviciute, Sonia Cunha
Construction consultant Van der Vorm
Building services engineering Bikken de Wolf
Structural engineering Buro Bouwfysica
Landscape consultants DS Landschapsarchitecten in collaboration with De Dakdokters
Tendering support Tenderboost

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