Amsterdam (Zuid): Valley

MVRDV – a favorite for a long time – it’s reassuring that their depth of thought and creative output continue to dominate. I think of recent date, this building complex is the one I have taken the most photos of- its incredible from top to bottom, inside and out. The universe granted me the perfect sky and lighting- providing just the right framing- and we lucked out getting inside as it technically wasn’t open to the public yet.

Walking right next to the building at street level, it’s quite discrete. From a distance that deconstruction is so dramatic, but the deconstruction of the towers doesn’t start to happen until 6 stories up or higher. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect and I love that about these adventures. The feeling of wonder is truly magical.

I get curious. I had a feeling there had to be more and unless labeled otherwise, if there’s a path that intrigues me, I’ll take it. And in this case, it was a seemingly harmless set of stairs… that was not one set, or two, but kept going (hence my estimate about the 6 stories previously). Twisting and turning, we finally arrived on the terrace and a “valley” indeed. So this is the space that the building is named after. It all clicked.

The outdoor space of Valley is phenomenal- the benches, the pathways, the landscaping and even the roofs of the atriums of the lobby below. The water on purpose? We were taking bets about whether there was a drainage problem. The water does have quite the effect – reminding me of the (currently empty) water spaces at the VDL Research House II. The reflection, expanding the sense of space.

We climbed back down and impressed already, we walked past what looked like an entrance and hours posted seemed like we could enter (we ran a later schedule there due to jet lag, so it was on the later side… turns out hours were wrong AND they weren’t really open to the public)… so why not? I’m pretty sure this was the main entrance, but with so many mini terraces (each with exterior entry) I’d like to see what other secrets this building has (including the parking garage).

Many times, one can only get a view of centerpiece type light fixtures from the bottom. This particular one is legitimately a piece of artwork and its massive. Approaching from the bottom, it looks flat but what a joy to be able to view the piece at eye level where one can appreciate the depth of the fixture.

Inside the lobby it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The metaphor of the valley continued even inside- connecting the inside and other together creating continuity. What added to this also was the choice of material which seamlessly created the connection. The imagery that comes to mind is that scene in Indiana Jones where they ride into a valley (which I learned is a sandstone canyon called Siq). The experience was so intimate, empty and it felt entirely mine- an incredibly special moment in time for me for some inexplicable reason.

I work in a phenomenal building now, don’t get me wrong, but I would give an arm (and maybe a leg) to both work and live in this building. I don’t think I would ever tire of it, ever.

Address: Beethovenstraat 503, 1082 LC Amsterdam, Netherlands

Website: MVRDV write up