Architectural firm Geurst & Schulze has transformed a dull ministerial office complex in The Hague into a warm, metropolitan building. The Wijnhavenkwartier complex now accommodates apartments, restaurants, shops, and an annex of Leiden University. The most striking aspect of the building is the sand-coloured façade that has been finished with custom-made tiles from Mosa, with which the architect makes a reference to ‘the beautiful city behind the dunes’.Delightful woven patterns
‘The ceramic façade entices you to look at the building,’ explains architect Jeroen Geurst. ‘The closer you get to the Wijnhavenkwartier, the more there is to experience. From a distance, the building appears to be the same shade of sand all over, but from closer by you can see the delightful horizontal and vertical woven patterns of the tiles. Each tile has unique colour nuances, and it’s these details that make the building so interesting to me.’
Geurst & Schulze were given the job of creating a ‘contemporary, open, and appealing residential area’ that complemented The Hague’s inner city and modern skyline. ‘The façade creates the relationship between the city and its residents,' explains Geurst. 'The sand-coloured tiles are a reference to the nearby beach life and sand substrate.’
Custom-made ceramic tile
The architect didn’t just choose ceramic tiles for aesthetic reasons. ‘The Wijnhavenkwartier cannot appear too heavy, but I did want to create a certain mass to define the space, so the lightweight stone-like material was the ideal solution. We chose Mosa because, as an architect, you want to design your own custom tile together with your design team, and with Mosa we can mix the colours using our own recipe. We worked together to investigate which pigments best matched the natural sand colour, refining various samples until the shade was absolutely perfect.’
The Wijnhavenkwartier’s head contractor and investors opted for Mosa mainly because of the tile’s durable, strong, and easy-to-maintain properties. Head contractor Heijmans also had to complete the work quickly because of the lack of space for storage and construction in the inner city. WVH Gevelprojecten therefore built the façade using prefab elements, so the lightweight tile was particularly suitable.’
Effect of light intensity
Geurst & Schulze didn’t have much previous experience with ceramics. ‘Now that the building is finished, I can see the huge influence that light intensity has,’ says Geurst. ‘The fact that every tile is unique produces an effect similar to natural stone. On cloudy days, the colour of the building appears a bit darker, and on sunny days it really shines. That fills me with pride as an architect. But even more importantly, I look at how the Wijnhavenkwartier functions, and I can see that it functions very well.’
Read more about the Wijnhavenkwartier here.
Mosa Magazine provides news and inspiration for designing with tile; the articles are not intended as technical documents.