Nearly 400 years ago, the inhabitants of the Vijzelgracht House were weavers. Now, an intense renovation by the firm has made it tenable for a private family.

Key features

In 2008, the City of Amsterdam declared the building to be uninhabitable after years of different uses; in 2015, it was fitted with a new foundation. That gave Benthem Crouwel the starting point it needed to start the canalside house’s transformation into a modern family home. The architects’ work preserves aspects of the architecture that have been added over the years, and incorporates new structures, like a three-floor conservatory that enhances connection with the adjacent garden. Inside, plentiful combinations of unexpected colours and materials emphasize the unique characteristics of the layout; dark tones dress the lower floors, while the attic level is enlivened by a vibrant palette. Many of the original details remain, taking on a contemporary identity with the help of these pairings. 

Frame’s take

While it could be said that greater cohesion could be established between the palettes incorporated in the space, the architects have used a unique design language to give the home personality. The interiors highlight the myriad ways that historic structures can be reimagined to suit modern-day needs, both functional and aesthetic, and how original elements can be repurposed to serve those ends. It shows the potential for future heritage renovation works: thinking outside of the box doesn’t mean that the end-result won’t be respectful of the context and site itself.