South Amsterdam was built up in the early decades of the last century with low-rise terrace housing and it is now densifying. Summertime is a new addition to the Zuidas business district: two complementary blocks of middle-income rental apartments between Gershwin- and Mahlerlaan. They are distinguished from their conventional neighbours by their dramatic set-backs and the rainbow of coloured glass panels that enclose jutting balconies. As with Jakarta and the Marina, a principal goal was to maximize views and natural light in a city where the skies are often wet and dark.
There are 197 varied apartments including urban lofts in Summertime, and all enjoy ample outdoor space, along with 1,100 sq. m of communal facilities that include a nursery. Apartments open off a sky lit central hall and colourful glazed tiles adorn the entries – a nod to the craft tradition of the pre-war Amsterdam School. Alternative energy generation, low temperature heating, grey water recycling, and green roofs provide a high level of sustainability.
‘There is the feeling of a hill village where houses are piled on top of one another. It is a distant sibling of Habitat 67 in Montreal, but it would be far too expensive to build another Habitat today. The developer was initially afraid of our use of colour but both blocks were fully leased before completion’.
… Gershwin makes an important contribution to the ambition of the municipality of Amsterdam to further develop the Zuidas into an attractive and mixed city centre for living and working. It is a large-scale complex, but with a friendly small-scale appearance with living coming down to street level. The grain of the individual apartment with associated outdoor space is clearly legible.
Works of art are a tribute to the colourful Dutch 50,- and 250,- guilder banknotes designed by Ootje Oxenaar that are now traded for euros; it is a financial district in the end. They mark the entrances and support the recognisability of the two blocks. The colour scheme of these tickets has been continued in the colour of the glass balconies. With changing day and sunlight, these provide an extra liveliness of the facade.
Due to the special stacking of the houses, atria are created in both buildings. These are used for opening up the houses. Sophisticated use of colours of balustrades and front doors ensure a continuation of the optimistic image from the outside. These atria give residents the opportunity to see and meet each other, thereby the spaces are a crucial binding factor.