René van Zuuk Achitekten

Belvedere Tower

René van Zuuk Achitekten
5. december 2018
All images courtesy of René van Zuuk Achitekten

The Belvedere tower's innovative form is both informed and defined by the constraints of its site, with a design that began with a rigorous analysis of its urban surrounding.

Project: Belvedere Tower, 2018
Location: Hilversum, the Netherlands
Client: Novaform Eindhoven
Investor: Altera
Architect: René van Zuuk Achitekten bv
Gross Floor Area: 6,500 m²
Photography: René van Zuuk Architekten, Peter van Mierlo, Lisanne Redegeld, Jan Willem Dragt, Bas Gijselhart
Suppliers: Windows and Doors: Kawneer; Bricks: Aberson; Kitchen: ASWA keukens; Fences: Versteeg metaal groep; Aluminium Doors: Rollecate; Lifts: Schindler

Located in the town of Hilversum, the building sits in an area of nondescript, four-story, postwar housing. In the 1980s, six additional Modernist towers were constructed to the south of this area. The tower's site marks the culmination of this series and sits on a prominent bend in the Oosterengweg bypass, a major thoroughfare through the small town. Due to the tower's prominent position, the municipality desired a building that would be sculptural in form and architecturally iconic. This exposed location also meant the proposed building would be visible from all sides and it therefore became important to design a building with a clear and logical symmetry.

The building's superficially large, triangular site is in fact limited by a number of key constraints, including requirements in relation to the minimum distance from the property boundary and a complex network of utility pipes running beneath the site. The building's footprint was therefore limited to no larger than 450 m2 (15% of the plot). These limitations, coupled with the stipulation of a maximum building height of no more than 11 stories, meant a traditional tower block design would result in a building comprising of no more than 44 residential units. However, due to the high price of land, the apartment complex was only financially viable if it comprised of at least 55 apartments. Our resulting design approach proposed a building where the floor area increased as the building rose vertically, with upper floors cantilevering from the central core, thus maximizing usable space on the constrained site.

Structurally, the cantilever is achieved by balancing the building's mass equally on both sides of the central core. The building's floor plan, a cross, is derived from this symmetrical structure. This cross-shaped layout makes each floor plan incredibly flexible, resulting in a building comprised of 55 units where no two apartments are identical. The building's apartments wrap around the oblique corners of the cross, resulting in apartments that are dual aspect, each with access to a large open balcony.

The word belvedere is Italian and translates to "beautiful view." On the upper floors the balconies provide expansive views: to the north they look over the town of Hilversum and to south they survey the surrounding forest.

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