The Student Hotel – Sphinx
Retail and Hotels
Ten floors, eight terraces, and at least 33 companies. It is an impressive project, the renovation of Rivierstaete. The building, also known as ‘the Monkey-rock’, was originally designed by Huig Maaskant and is now being revised by Roberto Meyer on behalf of Vastint Netherlands BV. This monumental building owes its status partly to the past: in the 70s it was the largest office building in Europe. It was very progressive and impressive at the time, but the closed construction looked heavily with all six million cream coloured tiles that were interspersed with grey concrete. So, it is high time to welcome the building in the future.
When you walk past the building, you might wonder what remains of this huge object. The entire building is stripped, the façade removed and only the concrete structure remained. The tiles are currently being replaced by glass, the grey roofing is given a green makeover and in the future approximately 60% will be saved on energy and heating costs.
ULC handles the mechanical installations within this project. This means that for both
cooling and heating, sources in the soil are being used. Through these sources one can store heat or obtain cooling. According to Hans Olsthoorn, that is exactly the challenge for ULC: the implementation of new techniques in an old construction. ULC is now specialized in this, but this project is unique because of the special structure.
The building has more bizarre architectural elements. You should not take the escape stairs too quickly, for example, because then you will knock yourself out. The architect Maaskant who died in ’77 was probably never in the building with his length of over 2 meters. There are also certain concrete pieces of about 25,000 kilograms that float in the building without any apparent function. It is guessed that this was to ensure the symmetry in the design.
If one sees how much is involved in renovating a building like this, it becomes clear that the 70s are further away than we sometimes think. Chef mechanic Ed Vermeulen leads us around when the air-handling units are hoisted up. As we climb higher floor by floor, it becomes clear how many different parties have to work on the same square meters. The entire project consists of many different phases and many more different parties are working on this job than would normally be the case for a renovation. This requires not only a gigantic preparation, but also extensive communication between all parties involved.
Sometimes it is hard to estimate why a drawing is showing certain crazy curves and ‘diversions’. Sometimes, it seems more sensible to draw an own plan on the construction site, with the result that later in the project it appears that something else should have happened in the space of ‘that crazy curve’. Similarly in the technical room, at the initial stage you might not expect that the entire room will be filled with pipes, so it sometimes seems more practical to take a different route than the drawing says. To make this easier, the BIM department of ULC started with 3D drawings in the so-called Revit program. In the beginning this took some extra time, but it ultimately resulted in a precise overview in drawings and it makes the placing of orders more precise. Thanks to this program, it is possible to see exactly how many meters of piping and the like are required without extensive calculations.
For anyone who is working on the project, it has long been clear: this is a unique concept. The building will not only serve as an office space, meeting place and restaurant; the building will also receive the high voltage for the neighbourhood which will be converted to lower tensions and subsequently be spread. And to top it off, there is, as it should nowadays in Amsterdam, a sky lounge on the top floor.
This can sometimes be quite tricky, especially when you consider that the measurements and requirements that are currently imposed on a ventilation shaft, for example, are quite different from those in the seventies. And then you are also not allowed to drill and saw everywhere, because that increases the risk of collapse. As a result, even the smallest adjustments have to be evaluated first.