Although lower and slimmer than most of the post-war buildings in its vicinity, the six-storey building stands out in striking fashion from its neighbours, instantaneously drawing attention due its black and white striped façade – designed in homage to the Mexcellent typeface designed in 1968 for the Olympian games in Mexico. Bands of vertical lines alternating with floor-to-ceiling glazing cover the slender building from the concrete slab foundation to the topmost storey. Small air vents are fitted into the striped parts like well-concealed jib doors. An outdoor staircase rises across the street front from the first to the fifth floor, and being clad in black and white panels given the same angle as the stairs, introduces variety to the rectilinear patterning. For Thomas Widdershoven, the stripes were a way of providing the façade a look that accords with his understanding as a graphic designer – for him one of the most difficult aspects of building a house.
To keep the exterior walls as thin as possible, the commissioned architects went for high-pressure laminate panels, which were directly mounted to the insulation material. A mere centimetre thick, they consist of a blend of up to 70 percent wood fibres and thermosetting resins, making them particularly durable on the one hand while enabling their recycling at the end of the building’s life span on the other. Indeed, the long-term use aspect played a large role in the planning; floor layouts are suitable for apartments, offices and hospitality applications alike. At present the studio run by the graphic designers accounts for two storeys of the building as well as the loft on the topmost floor, which the studio uses as an events space. A sake bar is located on the ground floor, and a Japanese Omakase restaurant on the storey above. The architects hope that the public rooftop terrace offering views of Amsterdam’s inner city will establish itself as a place for creatives to foregather.
The thonik block has been built as an ultra low-energy building. As such it has an air source heat pump and generates both solar and wind energy. The large window areas, in some cases in floating corner form, are triple-glazed and UV coated.