UNStudio completes P.C. Hooftstraat 140-142, featuring bespoke glass designs .

UNStudio - The Brick Pixelation Facade

The Brick Pixelation.

Textured and transparent, laced and illuminated, The Brick Pixelation Facade at the P.C. Hooftstraat 140-142 embodies the intricate, crafted details epitomised by couture clothing. Cast stainless steel bricks with glass inlays pixelate together along this partially transparent facade to create a distinctive shopfront experience on one of Amsterdam’s best-known streets.

UNStudio - The Brick Pixelation Facade

The P.C. Hooftstraat is famous for its high-end boutiques and design shops, situated between the Museum Quarter, the Vondel Park and the Oud-Zuid neighborhood. Shops along this street are a testament to Dutch design, creativity, high-end clothing and art. UNStudio’s renovation brought two separate buildings together to become one retail space, making The Brick Pixelation one of the largest retail spaces along the P.C. Hooftstraat.

Located next to its architectural cousin, The Looking Glass (also designed by UNStudio), the facade design uses cast stainless steel as its main material, and the traditional Amsterdam town house as its frame. Comparatively, this building expresses a more detail-oriented interpretation of textiles.

UNStudio - The Brick Pixelation Facade

While the facade is made of custom casted stainless steel bricks with glass inlays at pedestrian level, it transitions across the second floor back to the anthracite brickwork of a traditional Dutch townhouse. As such, this veil of stainless steel bricks can be experienced differently from relational distances, while keeping in step with the architectural heritage of Amsterdam.

UNStudio - The Brick Pixelation Facade

Ben van Berkel: “These neighbouring facade projects that we have designed for the P.C. Hooftstraat are principally concerned with contrasting and crafting the detail through scale and materiality. The design of the facade for 140-142 intentionally employs a more sober scale of detailing to its neighbour. At 140-142, steel bricks inlayed with glass are crafted to refine and compose the details, creating a contemporary interpretation of the traditional bricks found in Dutch townhouses. And while the windows of 138 span multiple floors and protrude outwards, those of 140-142 slant inwards and are brought back to the townhouse scale on the second floor.” 

While the finished result is sensitively subtle, much experimentation was undertaken to find the correct brick size, transparency and lighting components that could create the appropriate effect on the surroundings. Although the overall sizes of the stainless steel bricks are the same as typical bricks, by tapering and softening the edges, the stainless steel bricks have a refined and intricately detailed appearance, with manually glued glass inlays.

The stainless steel bricks are cast in different sizes, following a similar pattern to the traditional brick facade on the upper levels. The individual stainless steel bricks are precisely mounted onto larger steel frames, then installed on site. Operable glass windows behind the steel brick facade allow for maintenance and cleaning.

UNStudio - The Brick Pixelation Facade

The residential entrance door is composed of the same stainless steel bricks, but with an opaque glass inlay, ensuring privacy in the apartment entrance area. The stainless steel door handle and doorbell are also custom designed to integrate into the overall facade appearance.

The white steel window frames continue into the interior. Slanting the glass panels emphasises the dynamic of the white frames, a detail which is also continued in the smaller first floor windows.

P.C. Hooftstraat 140-142

UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber with Ger Gijzen, Marc Salemink, Sontaya Bluangtook and Pauline Caubel, Daniele de Benedictis, Chao Liu, Yang Li     

Executive Architect:  Architectenburo Dik Smeding BV
Facade Engineer:  ARUP
Main contractor:  Jan Vet b.v.

Photos courtesy ©Evabloem


UNStudio, founded in 1988 by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, is a Dutch architectural design studio specialising in architecture, interior architecture, product design, urban development and infrastructural projects. The name, UNStudio, stands for United Network Studio referring to the collaborative nature of the practice.

Throughout over 30 years of international project experience, UNStudio has continually expanded its capabilities through prolonged collaboration with an extended network of international consultants, partners, and advisors across the globe. This network, combined with the centrally located offices in Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Frankfurt, enables UNStudio to work efficiently anywhere in the world. With already 120 built projects in Asia, Europe, and North America, the studio continues to expand its global presence with recent commissions in among others China, South-Korea, Australia, Germany and the UK.

As a network practice, a highly flexible methodological approach has been developed which incorporates parametric designing and collaborations with leading specialists in other disciplines. The office has worked internationally since its inception and has produced a wide range of work ranging from public buildings, infrastructure, offices, residential, products, to urban masterplans.

Current projects include the design for Doha’s Integrated Metro Network in Qatar, the mixed-use FOUR development in Frankfurt, the wasl Tower in Dubai and the Southbank by Beulah development in Melbourne. Pivotal realised projects include the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Arnhem Central Station, Raffles City Hangzhou in China, the Mobius House in the Netherlands and the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam.