A ‘Brink’ is an old Dutch word for a green open space where people meet. Bringing together different parts of society to live together in a healthy, plant-filled project is also at the heart of the Brink Tower in Amsterdam, which started construction in 2022. The location is north Amsterdam, an area that is separated from the rest of the city by the waters of the IJ. Since 2018 it has been connected not just by ferries but also a new metro line, and change has been rapid.
The Brink Tower lies at the edge of the neighbourhood of Overhoeks, which has seen an explosion of new residential development, but just across a canal lies the low-rise Van der Pek neighbourhood. Despite a bridge between them, there is a great mental distance between the two. The Brink Tower will connect them visually and socially. The 28-storey tower contains 401 apartments of which 266 rental homes in the middle segment, 112 are at affordable rent and 23 are care homes.
At the Brink Tower, everyone shares the same access and built-in community facilities, including a neighbourhood centre. The architecture is stunning and exceptionally sustainable. A wide base with double-level retail turns the corner by the canal bridge, and above it, a series of step-backs with soft, elegantly curved corner edges gradually cut back the floors, with a final vertical stretch reaching a height of 90m.
This side presents a slim form with a cascade of green collective terraces overlooking Van der Pek and encouraging encounters between residents. On the other side the tower is wider, like the massive neighbouring towers which march in a line across Overhoeks towards the IJ. Unlike them, the Brink Tower’s cladding is characterised by warm red brick, referencing the Amsterdam School architecture of the 1920s that characterises much of the city, including Van der Pek.
Just as remarkable as its transformative social role and visual presence is its sustainable ambition. The Brink Tower is designed to become one of the first energy neutral residential tower of the Netherlands and generates more energy than it consumes, thanks to photovoltaics on terraces and facades, wind and more solar energy harvesting on the top roof, and various energy-saving measures including an aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) system.
It also takes biodiversity to new levels, not just with its choice of vegetation, but with nests and nooks for birds and insects. The Brink Tower shows that even in the city, humanity and nature can co-exist in harmony, and its visibility advertises the message across Amsterdam.