The property in question, a striking 1917 brick structure, is situated in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark neighbourhood, and forms a gateway to the park itself. Its characterful aesthetic and heritage provided the perfect canvas for the Generator brand, which is known for its alluring design, social spaces and affordable prices.
“We knew that we wanted to create something worthy of the city and the prominence of Dutch design, which has always been quirky and fun!” explains Anwar Mekhayech, principal of DesignAgency.
“The vision was to play off the heriDesignAgencytage of the building as well as to collaborate as much as possible with local talent. We viewed each design element as a playful intervention in the building. A lot of the inspiration was based on spending time in Amsterdam and seeing what was happening in the city.”
“The architect was able to convince planning that the heritage nature of the building could be maintained while adding two new glass levels to the top part of the building allowing us to have more rooms”
The school’s traditional brick façade has been restored, and accented with a slick, all-glass rooftop addition that houses the guest rooms. In harmony with the classical appearance of the building, the addition provides striking views of the park and the surrounding streets.
Throughout the duration of this project, the principal challenge for DesignAgency and IDEA was to balance necessary and more contemporary additions to the structure, whilst preserving its unique heritage.
“The history guided a lot of the decisions and permissions,” affirms Anwar. “The architect was able to convince planning that the heritage nature of the building could be maintained while adding two new glass levels to the top part of the building allowing us to have more rooms.
“The auditorium and library were sanctioned off as prime heritage rooms, as was the exterior, so we had to present all our ideas for approval. In the lobby we left the stained glass windows at the park entrance foyer and exposed some amazing internal brick work around the reception.
“A mix of signature and iconic Dutch design elements, such as Studio Job wallpaper and Moooi lighting, add to the effect, blended with vintage local and restored furnishings and commissioned, original artworks”
“The auditorium was inspired by the Lloyd Hotel and we were able to add an amazing structural mezzanine that connects the auditorium with the library. The library was left almost completely as original with a few fun additions! The original handrail and green railings in the main two stairwells are my favorite features of the original building.”
Connected to the library is a chill-out lounge, which has been created from a former auditorium. The raked seating hints at its scholastic past, but the space has been transformed with erlenmeyer flask-inspired lighting that glow over a lectern-esque bar.
A blackened metal feature stair that winds its way up to a catwalk and mezzanine encourages movement and people-watching.
At the apex of the building’s two wings, the ground floor café is inspired by the perennial pleasures of the out-of-doors. A delightfully airy space that opens to the park, the café establishes its own outdoor setting, with an abstracted row house that provides a whimsical space-within-a-space, while nodding to the locale’s proud architectural history.
Its mismatched floors, rendered in vibrant purples, pinks and deep yellows playfully evoke aerial views of tulip fields. Throughout the interior, tiles and textiles nod to folk craft fairs with their overlapping traditional patterns and colours.
A mix of signature and iconic Dutch design elements, such as Studio Job wallpaper and Moooi lighting, add to the effect, blended with vintage local and restored furnishings and commissioned, original artworks.
A typographic mural by Dutch-born, Parisian fashion designer and artist Pieter Ceizer lines the glass-elevator’s shaft, and a chandelier in the boiler room bar by Amsterdam-based industrial designers, Blom & Blom, further blur the boundaries between affordable hostel and high-design hotel.
Inviting members of the public and guests alike to explore and to socialise within these communal spaces in a meaningful way is at the heart of Generator’s philosophy – and is something DesignAgency has mastered as Generator’s global design partner.
“I think that because of the hostel’s location in the park, and the amazing communal areas that are open to the public it really adds an interesting design destination in the east of the city,” confirms Anwar.
“This is probably my favorite Generator to date. I think it really balances a lot of elements that make for a great hotel and an even more unique hostel. I imagine that once the word spreads, travellers to the city and locals will be curious and eager to check it out!”