Shift uses "barcode-like" wall cabinet to transform Amsterdam townhouse

Rotterdam studio Shift has used a 14-metre multifunctional cabinet wall to give a "loft-like" openness to the ground floor of a historic townhouse in Amsterdam (+ slideshow).

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

Open House, situated in the city's Indies neighbourhood, was transformed by eliminating the entrance hall and placing all functional elements into the piece of furniture that runs along one wall of the ground floor.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

The space "opened up in the most radical way", Shift co-founder Harm Timmermans told Dezeen.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

Extending the cabinet by three metres into the private garden allowed the architects the extra space they needed to accommodate all necessary functions.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

"In the first designs we struggled with fitting all the serving functions – stair, toilet storage, kitchen etc – into this piece of furniture," Timmermans said. "The breakthrough came when we realised that the regulatory plan allowed us to extend the closet into the back garden by a maximum of three metres."

Three blocks of juxtaposing materials were chosen to show the different functions, creating what Timmermans described as a barcode across the feature wall.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

"We came up with the barcode idea of juxtaposing materials that react to the condition they are in – outside, kitchen-dining, living," he said. "To strengthen the idea of a barcode, we chose contrasting materials in colour, texture, material and reflectivity."

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

Warm plywood is used for the living, a pink laminate is located in the kitchen-dining area and a weather-resistant anodised aluminium clads the portion outside.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

Within the dining section there is a recessed kitchen in black medium density fibreboard (MDF), providing a further contrast to the lighter-coloured materials.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

Other utilities accommodated in the cabinet include a staircase leading to the upper levels, a TV and audio system, a toilet and garden storage.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

It also provides a small porch to replace the original entrance hall, in what Timmermans describes as a "radical" move for a Dutch house.

Contrastingly, the two upper floors are divided up into individual closed spaces for four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a working space.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

A first-floor balcony at the back of the property sits above the kitchen area and overlooks the metal-clad portion of the cabinet in the garden.

"The intention was to create a space that includes both sidewalk and garden with the living area," said Timmermans.

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism

Similar urban renovation projects by the studio include replacing a load-bearing wall of a Rotterdam townhouse with a three-storey bookshelf and converting a suburban house into a dental surgery.

Photography by René de Wit.


Project credits:

Architect: Shift Architecture Urbanism
Project Team: Harm Timmermans, Oana Rades, Thijs van Bijsterveldt and Pieter Heymans
Construction engineer: B2CO, Richard Fielt
Contractor: JWK Bouwteam, Gerrik Kooijker
Installations: Installatietechniek Fred vd Pol & Zn
Wall closet furniture: Nieuw Amsterdams Ontwerp

Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism
Site plan – click for larger image
Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism
Floor plans – click for larger image
Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism
Long section – click for larger image
Open House by Shift Architecture Urbanism
Cross section – click for larger image