Esther Bentvelsen

Esther Bentvelsen


Nieuwe Horizon van Amsterdam

New Horizon of Amsterdam

The roof landscape as an accessible space 

My fascination is the Dutch sky: an ever-changing cloudscape which is highlighted by the flatness of the polders and characterises the Dutch landscape. Our famous clouds have been a great source of inspiration for Dutch painters for years. For instance, in Jacob van Ruisdael's paintings, the cloudy sky has the leading role: a low and distant horizon which suggests almost unlimited space with a usually lit cloudy sky. I want to give Amsterdammers the cloudy skies the Dutch painters dreamed of. 

With Amsterdam's city centre becoming increasingly crowded, the public space is becoming unsustainable. My aim of the project is to enrich the city by giving a new dimension to public space. The old city centre as a foundation above which a new world forms with the inhabitants of Amsterdam as users. It gives an extra experience to the inner city emphasising Amsterdam's playful and free character. A new improved Amsterdam level: a place of communal connection that offers the necessary visual and acoustic tranquillity. A place where you can briefly withdraw from reality that provides an enriching image of Amsterdam. 

I want to do this by creating qualitative 'empty spaces' that are partly sunk into the existing roof landscape, where the historical height accents remain visible and the cloudy sky takes the leading role. These plateaus have the necessary distance from the existing facade line, preserving the characteristic streetscape. They are also applied in places where the obstruction of daylight to the underlying buildings is minimal. Through flowing landscape movements, they bear one formal language. The plateaus offer experiences that can only be perceived at a height of 20 metres, such as sitting in the crown of a tree or being able to almost touch thirteenth-century church towers. A glass balustrade moves with the plane and bends inwards in places where there is a need for privacy or more acoustic tranquillity. 

In addition to the quality of the Dutch clouds, I am also going to add value: extra surface area by making vacant attic floors accessible, increasing the value of the homes by providing extra outdoor space, energy yields from solar panels and nesting opportunities for the swift and the bat. 

Comfort for every resident is central. Stairs with a minimum walking distance from home the plateau anchoring to the existing building and structure like long strings. Existing lift cores are used and, like the stairs, land in the middle of the plateau. With the help of a structural engineer, I developed a construction principle that makes the plateau as thin as possible and provides the necessary stability. Simplicity in elaboration and materialisation is key here; the focus is on the cloudy sky and historical accents with the white plateaus serving as a canvas. The multiplicity extends the field of vision: a new horizon of Amsterdam with the Dutch cloud sky in the leading role.  


Graduation date: 7 juni 2022
Graduation committee: Rob Hootsmans (mentor), Kamiel Klaasse, Ronald Rietveld 
Additional members for the exam: Wouter Kroeze, Dafne Wiegers

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