MVRDV and Piet Oudolf open the Valley skyscraper in Amsterdam with its jaw-dropping, standout mountain-like angles and green jagged peaks and its outrageous, innovative engineering


Amsterdam, The Netherlands

MVRDV together with Heyligers Architects and landscape architect Piet Oudolf have completed the dramatic, geology-inspired, plant-covered Valley skyscraper for the Dutch developer Edge and OVG Real Estate that loudly stands out in Amsterdam’s Zuidas neighborhood with its three towers of 67, 81, and 100 meters and its spectacular cantilevered apartments. 

The Valley by MVRDV

The new high-rise distinguishes itself in several ways: firstly, it combines offices, shops, catering, cultural facilities, and apartments in one building; secondly, unlike the closed-off buildings elsewhere in the Zuidas, the green valley that winds between the towers on the fourth and fifth floors is accessible to everyone via two external stone staircases.

Designed for developer Edge, Valley is an attempt to bring a green and human dimension back to the inhospitable office environment of Amsterdam Zuidas. 

It is a building with multiple faces; on the outer edges of the building is a shell of smooth mirrored glass, which fits the context of the business district. Inside this shell, the building has a completely different, more inviting natural appearance, as if the glass block has crumbled away to reveal craggy rock faces inside replete with natural stone and greenery.

The Valley by MVRDV

Various locations throughout the three-tower complex offer breathtaking views of the city—the apartments, of course, but especially the sky bar at the top of the tallest tower, which visitors can access via the Molteni flagship store on the ground floor. 

The building’s layout is tailored to a mixture of residents, workers, and visitors: on top of the three-story underground car park, offices occupy the lower seven floors, with apartments located on the eighth floor and up. 

Much of the building is open to the public: from the publicly accessible footpath that zig-zags up to the central valley from the street level to the Grotto, an atrium that forms a covered street on the first floor where the Sapiens Lab—a breeding ground for young scientists—will soon open. 

The Valley by MVRDV

The grotto is connected to the outside by two large skylights that double as shallow water pools in the valley level above, and its natural stone flooring, walls, and ceilings—the same stone used on the surfaces of the valley and towers—make clear that all the public areas of the building are part of the same apparently geological formation.

The design and construction of Valley is utterly bespoke, requiring the sustained commitment of hundreds of designers, engineers, builders, consultants, and of course the client. 

The enormously complex shape required a special commitment to fine detailing that further enhances the design concept. 

The Valley by MVRDV

MVRDV’s technology experts created a series of custom digital tools to perfect the building, from a tool that ensured every apartment had adequate light and views, to a program that made possible the apparently random pattern of over 40,000 stone tiles of varying sizes that adorn the building’s façades. 

Each of the 198 apartments has a unique floorplan, made possible by the interior designs by Heyligers Architects. 

And the outlandish cantilevers of the towers are possible thanks to innovative engineering, including eleven steel “specials” bolted to the concrete building that take the overall appearance to the next level.

Landscape architect Piet Oudolf developed a matrix to select the right plants for each location in the building, taking into account factors such as wind, sunlight, temperature, and maintenance. 

Trees, for example, are largely found on the lower floors, while the uppermost levels mainly support small plants. 

In total, more than 271 young trees and shrubs and approximately 13,500 smaller plants occupy the natural stone planters, representing 220 different plant species. 

In the coming years, the building will mature into the lush appearance of the design team’s vision as the greenery continues to grow. 

The biodiversity of this landscape is further supported by bird-and-bat boxes as well as various bee and insect hotels. 

Maintained using an automatic irrigation system and by “façade gardeners,” the trees and plants on the terraces will positively affect the well-being of people living and working in the Valley.

Valley combines insights in the field of sustainability, technology, and health. 

The building’s energy performance is 30% better than local regulations require, it has received BREEAM-NL Excellent certification for the commercial spaces, and the residential area scored an 8 out of 10 on the GPR Building Scale, a Dutch measurement tool that scores buildings across five themes of energy, environment, health, quality of use, and future value. 

The latest smart technologies are integrated into office spaces, including IP-based Building Automation Systems and various sensors linked to monitoring actual usage.

The construction of Valley took four years, with the first residents and entrepreneurs moving into the building at the end of 2021, now opening fully in September 2022. 

At this time, the building’s striking design attracted media attention and debate in the Dutch press. “Once again, MVRDV shows that dream images can be made buildable,” explains Kirsten Hannema for de Volkskrant

“Using 3D software, in which the architects entered requirements with regard to daylight, view, cooling load, and noise exposure, they ‘rationalized’ the design.” 

“The irregularly shaped facades eventually have about ten different angles, with the natural stone cladding fitted together like a puzzle.”

“An oasis in the stone desert on the Zuidas,” writes Bernard Hulsman in the NRC Handelsblad.

“It is not only because of the vertical forest and the cantilevered building parts, eleven of which are so large that they seem to float away, that Valley differs from all the towers that have been built over the past quarter of a century between the Amsterdam ring road A10 and the Buitenveldert district.” 

“With catering establishments and shops on the ground floor, offices on the bottom seven floors, and, above that, 198 expensive rental homes in many shapes and sizes, Valley is the first building in the Zuidas were working, living, and entertainment are mixed.”

Project: The Valley
Architects: MVRDV
Competition Team: Winy Maas with Jeroen Zuidgeest, Anton Wubben, Luca Moscelli, Sanne van Manen, Elien Deceuninck, Marco Gazzola, Jack Penford Baker, Brygida Zawadzka, Francis Liesting, Annette Lam and Hannah Knudsen
Design Team: Winy Maas with Jeroen Zuidgeest, Gijs Rikken, Gideon Maasland, Guido Boeters, Wietse Elswijk, Saimon Gomez Idiakez, Rik Lambers, Javier Lopez-Menchero, Sanne van Manen, Stephanie McNamara, Thijs van Oostrum, Frank Smit, Boudewijn Thomas, Maria Vasiloglou, and Laurens Veth
Interior Architects: Heyligers Architects
Landscape Architects: DeltaVorm Groep & Piet Oudolf
Engineers: Inbo
Structural Engineers: Van Rossum Raadgevende Ingenieurs
General Contractor: G&S Bouw B.V. and Boele & Van Eesteren B.V.
Real Estate Consultants: CBRE and Heeren Makelaars
Developer: Edge
Client: OVG Real Estate
Photographers: Ossip van Duivenbode

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