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P.C. Hooftstraat 138, 140-142, UN Studio

Glass and brick: Façade renovation by UN Studio

The names of the “The Looking Glass” and “The Brick Pixelation” projects in P.C. Hooftstraat already say quite a bit about the two façade redesigns that differ in appearance yet complement each other perfectly. The planners oriented their makeover of the frontages to the rhythm of the historical brick facades, taking cues from Amsterdam’s architecture to reinterpret it in a circumspect but innovative manner that sets new accents in the shopping mile.

The façade at Hooftstraat 138 was already divided into three vertical sections, and these the architects retained in their “Looking Glass” makeover, which involved renewing the characteristic red bricks in a step that lends the elevation a fresh touch, and retention of the window openings on the second story. On the other hand the two lower storeys now feature three strip-like curved glass boxes that resemble transparent curtains. This is to express the textiles and craftsmanship to be found inside, with the flowing fabric effect recalling the bespoke garments that are the business of the store. The individual panels are based on a structural glazing system composed of curved glass, steel profiles and joints, and having been pre-assembled were simply mounted on site. 

The existing modulation of the elevation at Hooftstraat 140-142, next door to „The Looking Glass“  façade, was on the whole also retained in the “Brick Pixelation” project, but here UN Studio architects headed by Ben van Berker and Caroline Boss undertook a more detail-oriented interpretation of the traditional brickwork. Apart from the upper area, which was merely given a grey colouration in the renovation project, the commercially used plinth zone has been provided an intricate skin of glass bricks. These have a stainless steel surround, with the overall effect lending the façade a pixelated look and thus also its name. The bricks frame two large windows and clad the outside entrance area to the storeys located above. The lighting inside the salesrooms of the Louis Vuitton shop shines diffusely through the bricks to the outside, catching all eyes in the busy shopping street.

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