Inspiration by bike

When Trude Hooykaas cycled along the IJ River in Amsterdam-North in 1997, her eye immediately fell on the gigantic Kraanspoor (crane track). She did not doubt even for a second: this is where she wanted to build a new office block. Hooykaas’ design was impressive, but there were a number of problems. The district authorities were planning to demolish all the buildings on the NDSM shipyard; developers did not believe that her project was feasible; and advisors recommended she find a ‘normal’ location for her building. But the architect held firm, got the politicians on her side, and ten years later the building was finished.

 

Crane track, 2004

Old becomes new

Hooykaas’ transparent office block stands out on account of its simplicity and ingenuity. Its light weight construction and materials allow for three floors to be built on the concrete foundations. The building floats, so that the historic Kraanspoor is still clearly visible. The architect placed panorama elevators in the original stairwells and created archive areas in the concrete constructions. Importantly, the building is energy efficient. The external double glazing acts as insulation and as a natural ventilation system.

 

Illuminated crane track, 2009

Figurehead

After all the resistance that she faced, Trude Hooykaas has received nothing but praise for ‘her’ Kraanspoor. The building has won numerous prizes and has become one of the most significant figureheads of the NDSM shipyard. Partly because of the high level of her architecture, the shipyard and the entire north bank of the IJ River is firmly on the map.

 

View of crane track from the IJ, 2010