If you think you are immune to surprise, visit the city of Zaandam, stroll through its streets, and discover its traditional homes thanks to the Inntel Hotel.
Many think that the misnamed «show architecture» is an expression of the ego of the architect of the day, the consequence of a sick society, or the collateral effect of the corruption of the administrative bodies, and, therefore, modifies the idiosyncrasy of the places where it is built. Nothing further. Architecture, like life, is pure spectacle. To deny this is to deny the essence of art and cut off the possibility of creating and growing, or growing and creating.
A hotel made up of 68 stacked houses
An important milestone was celebrated in the city of Zaandam in March this year. We are talking about the tenth anniversary of the construction of the current Inntel Hotels Zaandam, a building that perfectly blends the personality of the place, its surroundings, its roots, and the very essence of architecture: the spectacle, obviously. A building that creates an environment that did not exist before and that serves as a cultural and tourist attraction at the same time.
Its changing silhouette mimics the stacking of no more and no less than 68 houses in the traditional Zaandam style of construction. A kind of well-organized chaos that leads us to surprise with the utmost simplicity and that, although it seems like a crazy idea, we love it and it makes us smile. So much so, that its visualization can lead us to wonder if it is real. A bunch of houses, with their gables, windows and roofs dislocating our senses?
Zaandam city modernization plan
On the site occupied by this magnificent property there was another hotel owned by the same operator that financed the new one. The original hotel was built in 1986 and was demolished for the construction of the current one. However, its crazy image stems from an urban remodeling program that the city created for this neighborhood in 2003. This program was called Inverdan, and it wanted to create a modern metropolitan space with offices, shops, public buildings, residences, a hotel and a improved public transportation.
Thus, the promoters commissioned the architecture studio WAM Architecten, natives of the country, to create the new hotel, in which they ended up investing 15 million euros and which reached forty meters in height. On its twelve floors it houses 160 rooms, a swimming pool, a wellness centre, a gym, a conference room and a bar-restaurant. This project generated quite a bit of controversy at the time, but courageously, the promoter first and the city council later, gave free rein to the «stacking».
A very original hotel, which shows what the traditional houses of Zaandam are like
Architect Van Winden tested the limits of what was approved with the Inverdan plan. He basically wanted to modernize the neighborhood, but with a traditional air, and this building complied with it, maintaining a traditional aesthetic, but very original. In the end, «sanity» held and they gave the design a go-ahead, perhaps in the hope that it couldn’t be carried out. In short, he sees that sometimes we are badly thought.
The envelope not only simulates a grouping of typical houses of the region, it is also a catalog of its green tones, the geometry of its windows, the different pediments and the traditional gabled roofs. The exterior is built with prefabricated wood and completed with fiber cement plates, a highly durable material, consisting of the inclusion of cellulose fibers in a mass of cement.
The original building is supported by concrete walls and columns
A few years ago, fiber cement incorporated asbestos or earth flax, but after it was shown that the two elements could cause cancer, their manufacture and use were banned. If you still have plates of this type in your home, do not be alarmed, their effects are harmful when manipulated, sectioned or cut, although it is worth talking to a professional in your area to replace these elements with more current and less harmful.
The structure of the building is supported by walls and columns of reinforced concrete, rising vertically to the crown, through slabs of the same type. Inside, according to the company that carried out the construction, Ballast Nedam, metal frameworks were used, leaving spaces and meeting the necessary requirements for an eventual action by the firefighters, at the same time that adequate acoustic insulation was carried out, probably with mineral wool.
The blue house, the most special of the Zaandam hotel
Another of the peculiarities of the work was the execution of part of the hotel on a viaduct. This could not be completely condemned, so a formwork had to be engineered that would serve as a work platform and, at the same time, allow the transit of vehicles (including bicycles, the most popular transport in the country). The hotel rooms have numerous old images that cover the walls, making each of them unique. A very modern resource that blends very well with the idiosyncrasies of the hotel.
We cannot finish the article without mentioning the little blue house that is in the upper corner, and that is not the most traditional color of Zaandam. This house is a tribute to Claude Monet’s visit to the region in 1871. On this trip, the painter created the magnificent painting called The Blue House, inspired by the region. Without a doubt, a true distinctive and cultural touch for the modern building.