Top Spin

Amsterdam Sluisbuurt - Winner


Team Representative: Miguel Huelga de la Fuente (ES) – architect
Associate: Iria de la Peña Méndez (ES) – architect

Sukunfuku Studio, Santa Doradía 14 5°, 33202 Gijón (ES)
+34 985874946 – – 

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I. de la Peña Méndez & M. Huelga de la Fuente


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1. How did you form the team for the competition?

Sukunfuku studio is an office based in Spain that focuses on architecture and urbanism, founded by Miguel Huelga and Iria de la Peña. After a previous experience in different offices in Rotterdam, Tokyo, Paris and London, they have established a common practice. Europan is a great platform for us to bring innovative ideas into a complex urban project, something really difficult to achieve nowadays.

2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?

The main target for the project is the ambition to make “Sluisbuurt” into a typical Amsterdam neighbourhood while introducing high-rise buildings, a type of development still exceptional for the city. Unlike the typical high-rise development, with towers resting in a plinth, the proposal here is to emphasize their presence. The footprint of the towers works as a Hub at street level, hosting the main facilities in the block. The activity, usually facing main streets, is now transferred to the courtyards surrounding the towers, where public space becomes a flexible and active zone between towers and plinth units. To create a mixed-use residential neighbourhood of such large dimensions, liveable and sustainable, the urban guidelines establish different alternatives of living and working typologies. It combines them in a vertical urban model. The introduction of productive activities into the new development is key to achieve a balanced combination of uses, providing autonomy to the new development. The integration of workspace and small manufacturing units in the residential district generates a lively atmosphere.


3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?

The present design proposes an evolution towards a more flexible and sustainable urban model, adaptable to future changes and trends. The scale of the current Master plan, the lack of pre-existing elements in the site and the difficulty to predict the way work, housing and productivity will continue to develop in the coming years, prove unreasonable to propose a definitive solution. The proposal is to create a flexible model designed to host both residential and non-residential functions, foreseeing future needs to change the program according to the population requirements.


4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?

Productive cities, is a topic that we never treated before from a practical point of view, although as a practice we have always been interested in how productive activities, or small-scale urban manufacturing, can be part of the city fabric, looking at successful examples, in different cities, most of times anonymous, where ground floor productive units are connected to share daily life and celebrate (Barcelona, Beijing, Tokyo, London). On the other hand, this project is different to any other ones we faced before, due to its specific characteristics, the large scale, program and building typology requirements. However the proposal gathers several ideas already treated before, such as the combination of uses and adaptability of programs along time through a flexible model, looking at examples of residential blocks where housing typologies go beyond the standard living idea (H. Scharoun,, B. Lubetkin, Le Corbusier, Kengo Kuma); or the use of scheduled streets as part of public space, with references ranging from urban and sociological experiments to change the way streets and public space are used (Independent Group, Henk Hofstra, Depave).

Atelier productive BXL, Productive Avenues
Unité d'Habitation de Marseille, Le Corbusier
Times square, New York, 2009

5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?

The proposal presented is conceived as a living system, adaptable to changes in time, depending on the final user requirements. To make this happen is essential to guarantee a constant dialogue between municipality and private stakeholders, so the urban scenario is always responding to the current needs. Urban principles cannot be seen as a closed and final object but as flexible guidelines always ready to be re-interpreted depending on population changes.

6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?

Our team had the chance to win Europan 11, in Simrishamn (SE). This award helped to found our practice, giving visibility and recognition to our work but also bringing us to keep exploring. Besides, the contest opens the possibility for young architects to participate in projects, meetings and discussions of a scale and interest otherwise difficult to reach.