The HourGlass. A new flagship for an exclusive district of Amsterdam

This year, Amsterdam’s fastest-growing district gained a new landmark. The Hourglass marks the centre of the Zuidas area, which is steadily filling with modern offices, restaurants, elegant hotels, residential and other premium-class buildings. ALUPROF S.A., one of Europe’s leading suppliers of aluminium systems, has played a part in the development of the district, providing its solutions to the development.

The district’s new symbol

Zuidas is the financial district of the Dutch capital, an area where international business holds sway alongside exclusive restaurants and shops. It is home to the World Trade Center Amsterdam and the largest international corporations have offices there. An extraordinary development has now joined them; the Hourglass, an eighty-metre-tall building that takes its name from its shape. The architecture was inspired by the work of Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși, and the key to the success of the geometric façade design is the combination of natural stone and aluminium, thanks to which, the building obtained a timeless appearance. Green walls filled with living plants and the use of wood in the interior finishing affords a subtle play of light and creates an atmosphere which is both fresh and cosy.

The design of the HourGlass is the work of Dam & Partners Architecten of Amsterdam. The façade is made up of seven hundred and eighty aluminium windows, twenty façade sections and sliding doors. All those construction elements were made by a large and experienced ALUPROF partner in the Netherlands, Byldis.

Aluminium changes everything

The HourGlass, which is unquestionably one of Amsterdam’s architectural pearls, is, in part, the effect of an extraordinary professional collaboration between Byldis, the company which made the elevations and built the aluminium structures and the representatives of ALUPROF Netherlands responsible for coordinating the work on site on the one hand and, on the other, the ALUPROF R&D Department and Technical Support Department, both of them based at the company’s HQ in the southern Polish city of Bielsko-Biała.

Given the various angels of the Hourglass’ walls, the project proved to be a highly demanding one. A key challenge facing ALUPROF’s design engineers was to develop a customised corner solution based on the company’s MB-SR60N system. This was what made it possible to deal with the varied angles of the walls. In addition, the architectural vision for the façade itself, as seen from the outside, was also required to provide a mix of appearances, in other words, a combination of flat hold down stip and a semi-structure, a solution that ALUPROF has dubbed EFEKT.

Bespoke transoms were produced in order to provide a striking visual effect from inside. All of this also brought with it the necessity of compiling non-standard instructions for assembly and the precise preparation of the connectors. At this point, it has to be emphasised that, with the complexity of the joins demanded the highest level of professionalism from the producer and Byldis can, indeed, lay claim to that description. To a large extent, the remaining, lower storey construction elements for the façade of the HourGlass were based on ALUPROF’s MB-SR5ON system, in other words, the company’s most popular mullion and transom solution. The shape of the mullions and transoms makes it possible to build an aesthetic glass wall with visible, slender dividing lines and, at the same time, to ensure a solid, hard-wearing structure. The stone elevation was fitted with fixed and turn windows based on the ALUPROF MB-86SI and MB-86US SI systems. Both products feature excellent thermal insulation and high profile durability, meaning that they lend themselves to creating large-scale, heavyweight structures. It is also worth mentioning that the primary construction characteristic of the MB-86US SI is its appearance, because the profile of the sash is concealed behind the profile of the jamb and the glazing is mounted so that the fixed and openable windows lie on one plane. As a result, the fixed and opening lights look identical from the outside.

Sustainable building

A sustainable building is a building which is energy-saving, comfortable and created with respect for the natural environment. At each stage of its life, from the design phase to the moment it opens its doors, every aspect affecting the use of natural resources and concern for the environment is borne in mind.

The Hourglass is a residential and office building rooted in the principles of sustainable building, for which it has received a BREEAM certificate with a classification of EXCELLENT. At present, BREEAM is one of the most frequently used ecological evaluation methods for buildings in Europe and it guarantees that a development has been built with respect for the environment and people’s health.

Sectoral leader and innovator

ALUPROF is part of the Kęty S.A. Capital Group, which is listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and is one of the most modern, innovative and rapidly developing businesses in the Central and Eastern European aluminium sector. At the same time, ALUPROF is also one of the leaders of the sector in Europe, where it supplies recognised, high-quality solutions. The company has five facilities in Poland and nine branches in Europe and the USA. It is a presence in fifty-five countries and is entering more markets around the globe. ALUPROF offers state-of-the-art façade and fire-resistant systems, burglar-resistant structures and energy-saving solutions for use in passive buildings, as well as aluminium window, door, garage door, industrial door, commercial gate and roller shutter systems. The company’s solutions meet the most rigorous requirements for the contemporary construction industry.