Successful symbiosis: concrete architectural associates in Amsterdam employs around 40 architects, interior designers and designers who work together on new project designs. Rob Wagemans, who set concrete up some 20 years ago, sees significant creative potential in this interdisciplinary approach. The Dutch architect manages the office in the centre of Amsterdam‘s red-light district “Oudezijds Achterburgwal”. Maybe that is the source of the team’s unconventional style, which has made its name on the international stage with projects in New Jersey and Shanghai. Designs for the “Laundry Industry” in London, the overall concept for the lounge restaurant chain “Supperclub” or the “citizenM” hotel in Amsterdam are some of concrete’s best-known concepts, which are characterised by their holistic approach. The newest design, the INK Hotel in Amsterdam, bears the signature of concrete’s holistic planning style: the team is responsible not only for the architecture, but also the interior, styling and ultimately the identity of the building.
The boutique hotel lies at the heart of Amsterdam and is a conglomerate of various historical buildings centred around the former head office of the newspaper and publishing house “De Tijd”. This history forms a cornerstone of the conception and inspired the placement of iron letters on the walls – an homage to the printing house – as well as the name of the hotel: INK represents the ink that was needed to write the newspaper articles. The styling of the interior frequently deploys everyday aspects that concrete combines in new, unusual ways. For example, a simple wooden table serves as the reception desk. The restaurant is dominated by 1960s “Mad Men” retro chic, whilst the rooms are all furnished in a much more tranquil, almost minimalist Scandinavian, style.
In formal terms the boundaries between the interior and exterior are blurred as a public footpath runs right through the hotel reception. The ground floor with its various patios thus becomes a public space where international hotel guests run into Amsterdam’s residents. The boundaries in the rooms are also fluid: the only substantive separation between the bathroom and sleeping area is a Duravit Vero washbasin. The typical rectangular form Vero sets a design statement and, in conjunction with the brass-framed clear glass pane, acts as a stylish room divider.
The whole of the wall facing the bed is decorated with graphics by the Amsterdam artist Jan Rothuizen. Rothuizen developed three different hand-drawn maps that tell the story of the hotel and its environs. His signature can also be found on the signposts and door plates throughout the hotel.