Transparent Social Hub
A bold architectural statement at the heart of new Amsterdam innovation district Cumulus Park in the up-and-coming Zuidoost area, The Traveller is a curvilinear glass pavilion. With its smooth organic form, it helps define the new neighborhood, and is a meeting place for students, employees from nearby offices, entrepreneurs and local residents to come together.
Inside and Outside
The design of the Traveller combines the innovation ambition of Cumulus Park with the cosiness of a living room. Its sleek, high-quality roof sits above a highly transparent facade and a warm interior with differences in height and openness. By combining a clear glass façade with natural materials and colors, the boundaries blur as if there is no distinction between inside and outside. Juxtaposing these elements with an interior of rich colors and soft textures generates an intimate indoor space that is relaxed and comfortable.
A Place to Meet
It houses a restaurant concept from the team behind successful Amsterdam eateries Visaandeschelde and The Roast Room. The restaurant is open all day, offering light refreshments and a full menu of international dishes reflecting the neighborhood’s multicultural identity. There are versatile spaces for meetings and events upstairs.
“This project is very much aligned with our mission – the openness of the design combined with detailing and innovation. Hospitality projects are very personal to us as an extension of the service-minded approach we bring to our work.”
Following the Levels
The Traveller is designed to be seamlessly integrated with its surroundings, creating a dynamic relationship between the interior and exterior. The design made optimal use of the differences in level of the area, including a bicycle route on one side and a higher-lying motorway on the other. These height differences in the ground level continue in the pavilion. The concrete stairs on the ground level connect exactly to the concrete stairs in the interior, with only the glass facade as a separation.
Free from the Façade
The client’s brief was a flexible transparent building with an open, airy, and flowing interior adaptable to changing functions. The result is a sleek, organically curved glass pavilion with two wooden cores, containing all functions, that never touch the glass façade. This separation provides the freedom to adjust the cores if needed, while the open layout of both floors allows for variations in future uses.
Shading from the Sun
Strikingly transparent and with a welcoming organic form, the Traveller incorporates glass panels of the largest possible size, with a width of 2.4 meters and a height of almost 4 meters. As a result, only two panels were needed in the lower parts of the building and three panels on the highest part. Because of the desired transparency and curvature there were limitations in foils and in thickness to mitigate solar radiation. This required engineering a system that combines interior sun shading with drawing warm air from right behind the facade, which reduces the heating of the space. Combined with light reflecting indoor blinds, warm air between the glass facade and blind is extracted into a cove in the wooden ceiling.
“It is always said that indoor blinds do not work well, because the heat is already inside. This is partly the case. But we solved that with the principle of the Dutch climate facade, where the warm air between the glass facade and screen at the top is extracted into a cove.”
The wooden ceiling of the pavilion has the double curved shape of a ship’s hull and consists of 250 unique fins, with curved and twisted parts in larch wood. Modeling the connections was a challenge because the shape of the roof edge is not the same as the facade contours. An additional challenge was the roof’s slight slope and its design as a green roof that, at its lowest point, includes specialized drains.
We are Powerhouse Company, an award-winning architecture office based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Our story begins in 2005. Newly founded back then, we operated from kitchen tables in Rotterdam and Copenhagen. We have since grown into a multidisciplinary office of around 100 professionals, with international studios in Beijing, Oslo and Munich. Along the way we have won a number of prizes, including the Dutch Design Award, the Maaskant Prize and the AM/NAI Award.
Some things don’t change however. We are still led by founder Nanne de Ru, these days along with Paul Stavert, Stijn Kemper, Stefan Prins, Sander Apperlo (Munich) and Johanne Borthne (Oslo).