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CONTENTS   4 SITES  

SILO

  TETTERODE   DE LOODS   EDELWEIS   APPENDICES   NOTES   SUB-SITES

BOOK:  DAVID CARR-SMITH  -  IMPROVISED ARCHITECTURE IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

"GRAIN-SILO" SQUAT 1989 to 1998

ATTICS  - p2(of 4) :  

the SOUTH & NORTH ATTICS - INTRO  /  the SOUTH ATTIC

 

< SILO - INTRO <

< ATTICS - p1: MUSEUM & PYRAMID <

   ATTICS - p2: SOUTH & NORTH ATTICS INTRO / SOUTH ATTIC INTRO & APTS

> ATTICS - p3: SOUTH ATTIC APTS - cont >

> ATTICS - p4: NORTH ATTIC INTRO & APTS >

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the SOUTH & NORTH ATTICS

 

INTRODUCTION

Flanking the great central loft (the “Museum”), 46m-long wooden attics spread out over the tops of 12 rows of silos; all but the last two bays (dark mansards beyond the gable-ends of the main roof) edged with windows. From the central loft (where they received both power and grain) conveyors emerged and ran the lengths, each straddled by a ‘tripper’, an ingenious mobile device that forced the load to discharge into pairs of silo openings. Under the huge shallow-pitched orange-boarded roofs are now 9 spacious apartments made almost entirely from city demolition scrap.

After the long climb from the cavernous Ground-Floor the Attics afford release, a sense of spatial freedom, of suspension between water and the sky. 24m up they are always up and out into the weather, often filled with sun. The wide Het Ij water spreads from beneath the north-east side and to the west a vast view extends over the busy Houthaven quays, across a silent gravepool of sunken ships to a horizon of industrial docks, gleaming factories and sunset-silhouetted smoke plumes.

Walking in their light-filled galleries there is always through the side of one’s eye the water, the glimmering or glittering texture of ripples...from far below the plane of water seems to rise diagonally to the further shore - reconciling the apparent horizontal of one’s line-of-sight directed down to it by the shallow-sloping roofs below the windows. Flat ships as long as cul-de-sacs cleave the plane.

In these shallow open spaces - confined neither by existing walls (Ground-Floor) or vertical stacking (the Towers) - apts spread and differentiate horizontally. Thus many walls were needed: to divide and sound-insulate them; for internal demarcation, and as access-gallery ‘facades’. The loft’s own structure: two lines of thin columns propping the crossings of the great transverse roof trusses over longitudinal beams, forming a horizontal grid of 3·5m squares at a height of 2·2m, provided a convenient frame for almost all wall-building. Except for the solid apt-dividers all are light-weight: timber-supported boards and those ubiquitous ‘ready-made wall-panels’, staples of Silo space-dividing: demolition windows and glazed-doors - plentiful in the skips and suitable for hoisting up the Silo’s face. Thus these apts, in complete contrast to the ‘cave-chambers’ of the Ground-Floor, capitalise on their environment of light and tend to total transparency - in one alone (Maik Terveer) there are 29 domestic windows serving as wall.

The apts line the W side, claiming the afternoon sun and magnificent viewscape of the Houthavens. Their living-rooms all occupy the outside windowed edge, separated from the access gallery by utility and work rooms. In these shallow spaces sleeping and storage platforms are small; possible only near the 3·9m centre-line, up on the horizontal beams in the 1·7m triangle of the roof, in the gaps between the trusses.

The Attics are entered, via a steel rolling door from the Museum causeway, on the centre axis - this constrains the plan of the first apt and forces the access gallery into an angular diversion before it straightens along the windowed edge. At the ends of each attic is a huge apt that fills the whole width and extends through a three-arched wall into a final mansard loft - here the roof drops its sides to the floor, losing windows but gaining a 2m windowed second floor beneath.

The Attics were discovered encumbered with conveyors, filthy with dust and pidgeon-shit, all windows broken (the NW side so rotten it was boarded up), and exposed to the leaking roof. During the first phase of the occupation in the summer ‘89 they were cleared, cleaned, mended, and roof repairs began. The winter was wet cold and dirty: “it was almost like being outside” [HENRIETTE]; “you needed to hang on to your dreams” [HANS].

Water was hand-carried 9m up the Centre-Stair (from L3) until after February ‘90, when a big pump (serving the whole Silo) was installed on the ground-floor. Plumbing-in was often ludicrous: there was the problem of having to search for those who, having failed to fit a tap on the branch-pipe to their apt, tuned off the whole system to work on their bit of it; there were also “many apt-fountains until perfected “ [KOIK]. In ‘91 the S. Attic’s WC and Bathroom-Shower was built of old found pipes ...“ok until connected to the main system, then water squirting everywhere!” [KOIK].

         

ATTICS - SECTIONS 
(drawing 1892 / info added 2012)

ATTICS & APTS - PLAN 
(drawing 2006 / info as at 1995 / top is EEN) [NB: The Attics plan is superimposed on a Ground-Floor plan.]
[NB: for more info (dimensions, etc.) click on image.]

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AN OPENED SILO IN THE ENTRANCE OF KOIK'S APT (BAY 10)

(pic 6-94 / to NNW)

We are facing out of the apt's entry along the access gallery. A pierced steel silo-cover and its draught excluding wadding of foam, has been removed, and a lamp is hanging inside the 18m cavity. Four lines of such hatches run the length of the lofts - through them the silos were filled.

AN OPENED SILO IN THE ENTRANCE OF KOIK'S APT (BAY 10)

(pic 6-94 / to N)

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the SOUTH ATTIC & ITS APTS

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the SOUTH ATTIC ACCESS GALLERY & HET IJ

MUSEUM: CAUSEWAY TO THE S-ATTIC ENTRY AT FAR END
(pic 6-94 / to S)

S-ATTIC (BAY-1): GALLERY FROM MUSEUM ENTRY, PAST ANDREA'S APT ENTRY
(pic 9-94 / to SSE)

Looking into the S. Attic from the Museum, facing the first apt’s door (Andrea B's), the open structure of whose store-room entry-space reveals a local complexity in the Attic’s roof. Its transparent facade emphasises the ‘hollow-irony’ of the great steel-crowned and bolt-jewelled roof-truss conferring 'pedimental dignity' on an enclave-forecourt cluttered with banal household items and ‘useful’ objects. Tucked in the left corner is a clutch of 1991 water-based facilities: washing-machine, bath-shower room, and WC room.

S-ATTIC (BAY-1): ELECTRIC INSTALLATIONS ON WALL OF SHARED WC CUBICLE
(pic 9-94 / to E)

In the Attic's NE corner against the Museum's brick and abutting the bath-room enclosure [pic: right] (note the shower-cubicle's window), a makeshift wc cubicle was formed - partitioned with a crude fronting wood frame and door and a cement-block wall whose gallery face supports an agglomeration of electrical junctions and devices. As if imprinting its soul on the wc's white inner wall this electrical muddle seems mirrored by a complex photographic collage.

S-ATTIC (BAY-1): SHARED BATH & SHOWER ROOM
(pic 9-94 / to N)

A portion of the S-Attic's NE corner, including its bay-1 window, was walled off as a shared bath/shower-room. Visible at its north end is the brick wall of the Museum. that continues beyond the window, elaborating 'Gothic' castellations.

The bath is raised on cement-slabs for drainage and a wooden palette covers the cold concrete floor.

S-ATTIC (BAY-1): SHARED BATH & SHOWER ROOM WITH EXIT TO GALLERY
(pic 9-94 / to SSE)

 

S-ATTIC (BAY-2): GALLERY STORE
(pic 9-94 / to E)

 

S-ATTIC (BAY-3): GALLERY WINDOWS AT NIGHT WITH VIEW OF HET IJ 
(pic 11-97 / to SE)

S-ATTIC (BAY-4): GALLERY TO S END WITH 'JOKE' OBJECT & CAT
(pic 9-94 / to SSE)

The 25m windowed portion of the gallery, confined by the improvised walls of apts (of HANS, LOT, MAIK and across the far end KOIK). On the cold concrete floor a length of conveyor-belting. Jammed in the upper-wall is an ‘instant-object’: an elegant prow of drift-wood has acquired a precisely poised addition - it is now obliged to proffer a polystyrene fungus dribbling between its fingers from an exhausted aerosol.

S-ATTIC (BAY-5): VIEW OF HET IJ WITH THREE BOATS FROM GALLERY WINDOWS
(pic 11-97 / to NE)

S-ATTIC (BAY-5): GALLERY TO S END & LOT'S APT
(pic 11-97 / to S)

After official fire advice (after the fire in Ton's Central-Stair apt) the apts replaced their windows on their gang facades with solid board walls (painted by children from Lot's painting class). To the right of Lot's 'front-door'. the S-Attic's fire-escape passage opens [ref next pic].

S-ATTIC (BAY-6): THE ATTIC'S EMERGENCY EXIT (NIGHT)
(pic 11-97 / to W) 

The S-Attic's fire-escape passage runs between Lot's and Hans' apts to the Silo's W facade.

S-ATTIC (BAY-7): GALLERY - MAIK APT FACADE
(pic 9-94 / to S)

Past Maik's complex facade the gallery stops at the entry door of Koik's south-end apt.

S-ATTIC (BAY-7): GALLERY WINDOW VIEW OF HET IJ RAIN
(pic 9-94 / to SE)

Koik's apt's side roof (bay-10) is pouring water from its corner drain

S-ATTIC (BAY-10): VIEW OF HET IJ & FRED'S DUKDALF WINDMILL FROM KOIK'S APT SIDE-ROOF
(pic 9-94 / to N)

S-ATTIC (BAY-10): VIEW OF HET IJ WITH CRUISE SHIP FROM KOIK'S APT SIDE-ROOF
(pic 6-94 / to EES)

 

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the SOUTH ATTIC APTS 
[ NB: Apts are designated by the names of their present occupiers (who are not necessarily their makers)] 

The division into five ‘housing plots’ was decided in situ: four of about 70m2 and one huge 180m2 across the building’s end with two small lower floors. Only two (coincidentally the earliest) are still occupied by their originators (Andrea and Hans).

In 1991 the S Attic built for itself a shared Bath/Shower-room and a WC, thus (unlike the N Attic) none of its apts have these facilities.

Its five apts are shown below and continue on page 3:

ANDREA B (c1989-)  [Bays 1/2/3]
HANS G
(Spring 1990-)  [Bays 4/5]
LOT VERMEER (KOIK: Sept 1992- / LOT: Sept 1993--)  [Bays 6/7]
MAIK TERVEER (1992-)  [Bays 8/9]
KOIK (1992-)  [Bays 10/11/12]
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SOUTH ATTIC & APTS - PLAN 

(drawing 2006 / info as at 1995 / top is EEN)

The attic is 46 metres long / 11.4 metres wide. Divided (as defined by its roof-trusses and its underlying silos) into 12 transverse bays.  The access gallery along the E-side is approx 2m wide. 
[NB: for more info (dimensions, etc.) click on image.]

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ANDREA BOERMAN APT (1989 -)

The first apt in this Attic

ANDREA (BAYS 2/1): 

(pic 9-94 / to NNW)

ANDREA (BAY 3): RENOVATION BEGINS 

(pic 9-94 / to SW)

ANDREA (BAY 3): RENOVATION IN PROGRESS

(pic 9-94 / to SE)

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HANS GIESEN APT (Spring 1990 -)
[NB: Quotes are Hans’]

The second apt in the row and the first of three whose windowed facades wall the access gallery - a 72m2 rectangle, two bays wide. One first enters utility rooms: a kitchen, workshop and studio-space - separated by a window-wall from a living-room with a small bed-platform built back under the roof’s ridge above the workshop’s wood-store.

Hans was among those who began the occupation of the S Attic, cleared and cleaned it, decided its dividing. In spring ‘90 he began to live there: camping with an oil-heater on old carpets inside walls of plastic; carrying water up from the Centre Stair.

From 1990 to ‘94 the boundary and interior walls were made - and remade: evolving from “shed” to internally differentiated “insulated enclosure”. A wall of wood and plastic first divided Hans from Andrea, replaced by primitive concrete (shuttering filled with layers of broken brick and poured cement). Between Hans and Lot a board and mattress sandwich was replaced by plaster-rendered concrete. In ‘93 the space was divided by the wall of windows, a kitchen installed, and the bed-platform built.

The apt was not ‘designed’, “just measured”. Not especially apparent in toto, its parts and details are characterised by austere sensationism and aesthetic precision, extending from his store of water-shaped wood “too beautiful to do anything with” to delicately precise patterning in the arrangement of kitchen-jars - “I love to see rubbish made into pattern and order”.

HANS (BAY 4): KITCHEN EXTERIOR - GALLERY WINDOW-WALL

(pic 9-94 / to NE)

 

HANS (BAY 4): ENTRY SPACE & KITCHEN

(pic 9-94 / to NE)

The apt's 'front-door' is the orange board-covered slab [pic: lft]

 

HANS (BAY 5/4): THE FRONT-DOOR’S ANTI- CAT SYSTEM (THE DOOR IS PROPPED OPEN HERE)

(pic 9-94 / to EEN)

A cunning and extensive “Anti-cat-slip-in-system” closes the entry-door (food-stealing/pissing cats roam the Attics) [pic: lft]. A nylon rope straddles the kitchen over pulley wheels from door to counter-weight: appropriately a large dog-food can “perfectly weighted” with stones [pic: rt]

HANS (BAY 5): THE UTILITY SPACE VIEWED THROUGH GALLERY WINDOW

(pic 4-6-94 / to WWS)

At this time Cora's huge sunflower painting was displayed in the space presumably prior to being hung in the Kroeg [ref: Kroeg]  

 

 

 

HANS (BAY 5/4): THE UTILITY SPACE - NEON LAMP & CUPBOARD

(pic 9-94 / to WWN)

The overhead lamp was from the street (x4 ‘TL tubes’) - the cloth covered it for a party “it mellowed the light”, then fell half-off - disclosing an exquisite dialectic: similarity of shape and opposition of action: the rigid 3-D metal rectangle trails its limp catenary twin, which softly glows in its harsh light. 

Three skipped doors on a hardboard back form a clothes-cupboard (when it stood by the exit “someone went in it to go out”, now “everyone thinks it’s a wc”). The spiky flower-like standard-lamp Hans made from cut bent and welded grain sieves.

HANS (BAY 5/4): THE UTILITY SPACE 

(pic 6-94 / to WWN)

 

HANS (BAY 4/5): THE UTILITY SPACE - FROM KITCHEN TO LIVING-ROOM ENTRY

(pic 8-94 / to WWN)

 

HANS (BAY 4/5): LIVING-ROOM 

(pic 6-94 / to SE)

The wall of windows cuts off this domestic room from the utilitarian E-side space, along the line of a longitudinal beam and post. The glazed double-door was junked by an “animal asylum”, the windows came from Bührmann squat. The bed-platform is reached up a ‘typical house-boat ladder’ rescued “from the garbage”.

HANS (BAY 4): LIVING-ROOM BED PLATFORM 

(pic 9-94 / to E)

At the rear corner of the (apparantly from below) totally enclosed bed space, a fascinating spatial continuity with the east room is encountered - a view into the south end of the kitchen. The ad hoc modes of construction allow real-time discovery of spatial complexities and effects.

HANS (BAY 5/4): LIVING-ROOM TO N WALL

(pic 6-94 / to NNW)

HANS (BAY 4): LIVING-ROOM - N WALL WITH 'DECOR-OBJECTS' 

(pic 9-94 / to NW)

Formal harmonies between unselfconsciously placed objects are so inevitable that it is not possible to decide if these have been chosen and arranged for display or  simply collected and conveniently 'parked'.

HANS (BAY 4/5): LIVING-ROOM TO S WALL

(pic 6-94 / to SSE)

HANS (BAY 5): LIVING-ROOM WINDOW INTO UTILITY SPACE WITH VIEW OF PHANTASMAGORIC FIGURE
(pic 6-94 / to EES)

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< SILO - INTRO <

< ATTICS - p1: MUSEUM & PYRAMID <

   ATTICS - p2: SOUTH & NORTH ATTICS INTRO / SOUTH ATTIC INTRO & APTS

> ATTICS - p3: SOUTH ATTIC APTS - cont >

> ATTICS - p4: NORTH ATTIC INTRO & APTS >
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CONTENTS   4 SITES  

SILO

  TETTERODE   DE LOODS   EDELWEIS   APPENDICES   NOTES   SUB-SITES