In the western part of the Amsterdam harbour, an extensive urban operation has transformed a former dam and silo building. A mixed program of housing, offices, workspaces, commercial spaces and public spaces are arranged in a 20 meter deep and ten-story-high urban envelope.  The apartments differ vastly in size, price and organization, which appeals to a changing demography and the desire for individuality.


Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Year: 1995-2003

Client: Rabo Vastgoed, Utrecht NL and De Principaal B.V, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Program: 19,500m2 housing, 165 dwellings

Budget: EURO 16.8 million (EURO 861/ m2)



On there is a link to the excursion group of Silodam: They can be contacted to arrange guided tours through the building for a small fee.

Tip: rent a boat to take a view from the water. 



In the western part of the Amsterdam harbour, an extensive urban operation has been undertaken in order to densify the city and to meet the demands of the market, even on one of the more vulnerable areas. A former dam with a silo building on top has been transformed into a new neighbourhood that consists of a series of relatively costly components: a dam with a sunken parking lot, renovation of the old silo buildings, the required mix of less expensive social housing, the underwater protection barrier against oil tankers, the required deep piling foundation and the expensive temporary drydock” constructions. To help pay for parts of this operation, a new housing block at the end of the dam was proposed. Timing helped. The Dutch real estate boom in the nineties allowed for higher profits. By “waiting” some years, additional income could be generated. How could MVRDV design a building that would wait”? 

The problem of a fast-changing housing market was approached with a series of different housing types. The demand for a big variety of living spaces, on the one hand, led to different typologies but on the other hand, as a counterbalance to the increasing individuality. A mixed program of 157 houses (for rent or for sale), offices, workspaces, commercial spaces and public spaces had to be arranged in a 20 meter deep and ten-story-high urban envelope. The apartments differ in size, cost, and organization. In order to accommodate this process in time, a series of neighbourhoods of 8 to 12 apartments were created. Blocks of apartments which surround a corridor, a garden, a gallery and a hall. As a counter-form these organizations lead to specific apartments: apartments with a panoramic view, with views on both sides, double-height apartments, apartments with a patio, apartments with a view to the harbour. The daylight requirements caused different amounts of windows for these types. The economic requirements added a differentiation in facade material and outside spaces. In time these blocks were offered for discussion. It leads to both political and economic negotiations, that could span the given time. Based on a four-tower organization, these blocks could be shifted. In the political discussions, a mix had to be achieved over separations, stratification or apartheid constellations. In the economic discussions, “Gauss curves” accompanied the changes in demand. Up until that moment the discussions had to be frozen. The existing situation was maintained in place.


As a result, an unexpected sequence of semi-public routes appeared: from galleries on one side one can walk via slits and corridors to galleries on the other side and higher up. Connecting all the houses with the hall, the public balcony, the harbour, the barbeque area and garden, the library, fitness area and toy exchange, a three-dimensional neighbourhood materializes. It became a container of houses, literally interpreting the surrounding harbour. Adding a 21st-century silo of houses to the adjacent 19th- and 20th-century silos. One of the blocks contains a restaurant, pushed outside of the volume. The dam has been bent through the volume. It creates a public plaza with a panoramic view over the river. It compensates for the loss of the view at the former dam. Below the balcony, there is an office with almost the same magnificent view.



Design: MVRDV - Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries 

Competition phase: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries with Tom Mossel, Joost Glissenaar, Alex Brouwer, Ruby van den Munckhof and Joost Kok

Design and Construction phase: Nathalie de Vries, Frans de Witte with Eline Strijkers, Duzan Doepel and Bernad Felsinger


Structure: Pieters Bouwtechniek, Haarlem/Delft, the Netherlands

Services: Cauberg Huygen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Acoustics: Cauberg Huygen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Facilitary office: Bureau Bouwkunde, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Building physics: Cauberg Huygen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

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