Valley . Amsterdam

MVRDV . photos: © Ossip van Duivenbode

Valley, the dramatic, geology-inspired, plant-covered high-rise designed by MVRDV for developer Edge, was officially opened in a ceremony on Friday. The 75,000-square-metre building, which was recently declared the world’s best new skyscraper by the Emporis Awards, stands out in Amsterdam’s Zuidas neighbourhood with its three towers of 67, 81, and 100 metres and its spectacular cantilevered apartments. The building distinguishes itself in several ways: firstly, it combines offices, shops, catering, cultural facilities, and apartments in one building; secondly, unlike the closed-off buildings elsewhere in the Zuidas, the green valley that winds between the towers on the fourth and fifth floors is accessible to everyone via two external stone staircases.
The building’s extensive planting, designed by landscape architect Piet Oudolf, hosts approximately 13,500 young plants, shrubs, and trees. As these mature over the coming years, they will give Valley an increasingly green appearance, making the building a manifesto for a greener city.

Valley is an attempt to bring a green and human dimension back to the inhospitable office environment of Amsterdam Zuidas. It is a building with multiple faces; on the outer edges of the building is a shell of smooth mirrored glass, which fits the context of the business district. Inside this shell, the building has a completely different, more inviting natural appearance, as if the glass block has crumbled away to reveal craggy rock faces inside replete with natural stone and greenery.
Various locations throughout the three-tower complex offer breathtaking views of the city – the apartments, of course, but especially the sky bar at the top of the tallest tower, which visitors can access via the Molteni flagship store on the ground floor. The building’s layout is tailored to a mixture of residents, workers, and visitors: on top of the three-storey underground car park, offices occupy the lower seven floors, with apartments located on the eighth floor and up. Much of the building is open to the public: from the publicly accessible footpath that zig-zags up to the central valley from the street level, to the Grotto, an atrium that forms a covered street on the first floor where the Sapiens Lab – a breeding ground for young scientists – will soon open. The grotto is connected to the outside by two large skylights that double as shallow water pools in the valley level above, and its natural stone flooring, walls, and ceilings – the same stone used on the surfaces of the valley and towers – makes clear that all the public areas of the building are part of the same apparently geological formation.
The design and construction of Valley is utterly bespoke, requiring the sustained commitment of hundreds of designers, engineers, builders, consultants, and of course the client. The enormously complex shape required a special commitment to fine detailing that further enhances the design concept. MVRDV’s technology experts created a series of custom digital tools to perfect the building, from a tool that ensured every apartment had adequate light and views, to a programme that made possible the apparently random pattern of over 40,000 stone tiles of varying sizes that adorn the building’s façades. Each of the 198 apartments has a unique floorplan, made possible by the interior designs by Heyligers Architects. And the outlandish cantilevers of the towers are possible thanks to innovative
ngineering, including eleven steel “specials” bolted to the concrete building that take the overall appearance to the next level.

Landscape architect Piet Oudolf developed a matrix to select the right plants for each location in the building, taking into account factors such as wind, sunlight, temperature, and maintenance. Trees, for example, are largely found on the lower floors, while the uppermost levels mainly support small plants. In total, more than 271 young trees and shrubs and approximately 13,500 smaller plants occupy the natural stone planters, representing 220 different plant species. In the coming years, the building will mature into the lush appearance of the design team’s vision as the greenery continues to grow. The biodiversity of this landscape is further supported by bird- and bat boxes as well as various bee and insect hotels. Maintained using an automatic irrigation system and by “façade gardeners”, the trees and plants on the terraces will positively affect the well-being of people living and working in Valley.

Programme: 75,000m2 mixed-use (residential, offices, cultural, retail, and parking)
Sustainability certification: BREEAM-NL Excellent (commercial spaces)

Architect: MVRDV
Principal in charge: Winy Maas
Partner: Jeroen Zuidgeest
Director: Gideon Maasland
Competition: Anton Wubben, Luca Moscelli, Sanne van Manen, Elien Deceuninck, Marco Gazzola, Jack Penford Baker, Brygida Zawadzka, Francis Liesting, Annette Lam, Hannah Knudsen Design Team: Gijs Rikken and Gideon Maasland with Guido Boeters, Wietse Elswijk, Saimon Gomez Idiakez, Rik Lambers, Javier Lopez-Menchero, Sanne van Manen, Stephanie McNamara, Thijs van Oostrum, Frank Smit, Boudewijn Thomas, Maria Vasiloglou, Laurens Veth, Cas Esbach, Mark van Wasbeek, Olesya Vodenicharska Diagrams and Drawings: © MVRDV Copyright: MVRDV Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries
Building Owner: RJB Group of Companies Contractor: G&S Bouw B.V., Boele & Van Eesteren B.V. Landscape Design: Piet Oudolf, DeltaVorm Groep Interior design: Heyligers Architects Engineering: Inbo Cost Calculator: BBN adviseurs Structural Engineer: Van Rossum Raadgevende Ingenieurs Installations: Deerns, DWA Building Physics and Fire Safety: DGMR Parametric Design Volume: ARUP Real Estate Consultant: CBRE, Heeren Makelaars Images: Vero Visuals Graphic Design: PlusOne Model: made by mistake Photography: Ossip van Duivenbode