The development site of HAUT on the River Amstel did not simply go to the highest bidder. In assessing offers, the municipality of Amsterdam also considered architectural quality and environmental sustainability. The selected proposal for a 21-story residential tower in timber, is one of the tallest timber hybrid structures in the world. This innovative project will help to put timber back on the world map as a structural building material.
In contrast to concrete and steel, timber production causes no carbon emissions. Timber actually stores carbon. Moreover, timber is renewable if harvested from sustainable forestry production. HAUT is an example of innovative sustainability in other ways, too. The building is fitted with solar panels on the roof and façade, cooling is sourced from the ground, sensor-controlled technical spaces provide low-temperature floor heating and cooling, nesting boxes are installed for birds and bats, there are charging points for shared electric cars, and a rooftop garden with rainwater storage.
The load-bearing structure of HAUT is made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels manufactured off-site, ensuring low waste production and fast and clean on-site assemblage. As there are no standard building regulations for high-rise timber constructions in the Netherlands, the design team has invested considerable time and energy in technical innovation and safety. Floors and walls are constructed in timber, however a structure made completely of timber in wet and windy Amsterdam would be impossible. Consequently, the foundations, basement, and core are constructed in concrete.
A benefit of timber construction is that it offers a warm feel and allows for a high level of customisation, or bespoke ‘haute architecture’. CLT panels are easily adaptable during prefabrication, offering first buyers options in the size and layout of their apartment, the number of floors, and the positioning of double-height spaces, galleries and balconies. Unlike most timber buildings, only the inner walls of HAUT are load-bearing, which allows for floor-to-ceiling windows in the façade. The irregular pattern of balconies and the pronounced, double-height spaces facing the River Amstel make HAUT’s architecture highly distinctive.