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Art in the public space

16 May - 2023
by Alice Broeksma


Art adds value to public spaces of residential projects and can create a feeling of belonging. This is the firm belief of Dutch property developers, who are behind the newly built Q Residences in Amsterdam.

Sculptures, contemporary wall decorations and a huge designer lamp greet the inhabitants of Q Residences, recently finished by the American architect Jeanne Gang and her famous Chicago architecture office, Studio Gang. The owners and developers of this project, the Dutch Kroonenberg Group, are convinced investing in art and design objects adds ‘experiences’ to public areas and make people feel at home. Offering quality and service is also vital. ‘This makes a residential tower truly personal, not just another building.’ Art is one of the keys.

Of the two residential buildings, ‘Quartz’ is the most striking, with flowing lines and staggered balconies to encourage social contact: you can wave at your neighbours. The possibility of interaction is important to Jeanne Gang. Her 75 metre tower soars above the surroundings in this green district called Buitenveldert. On the other side is Zuidas (South Axis), the expanding international business district in Amsterdam. Q Residences are built at the intersection. It is Studio Gang’s first building complex in Europe.

Working with Dutch designers

Jeanne Gang works with a team of prominent architects, designers, artists and artisans. For Q Residences she collaborated with Dutch designers, to understand the country’s culture better. But the American architect already knew the Netherlands. After she graduated from Harvard, she worked three years in Rotterdam, in the mid-1990’s, under Rem Koolhaas at the leading Dutch architectural firm OMA.

For Q Residences, Studio Piet Boon advised on the public areas and the optimal layout of the homes. Designer Piet Boon is internationally known for his trademark industrial-chic style. He suggested involving the famous landscape architect Piet Oudolf, to design the outdoor Plaza with Deltavormgroep. Piet Oudolf is known for his High Line in New York (2009), the elevated City Park on an old railway line. Years before, in 2000, his breakthrough came in America by creating a public garden on a neglected urban site in Chicago: Jeanne Gang’s city.

The lobby

There is more work by Dutch designers in the Quartz lobby in Amsterdam. From the street, a graphic vertical pattern in black, white and gold attracts the attention: the artistic window covering designed for the lobby by studio Inside Outside. Main creator Petra Blaisse says: ‘Jeanne Gang’s design is very special, it needed something worldly. A design language adding to the appeal, and at the same time enhancing the feeling of space’. Hanging from a height of 5.25 metres, the louvred strip curtain consists of three parts. They are made from alternating strips of black lacquer foil, white gauze and transparent PVC, with a touch of gold-coloured imitation leather.

When you enter the lobby through a 6 metre revolving door, there is a concierge to welcome you. And the one-of-a-kind bronze light sculpture GingerBlimp, by designer and artist Frank Molenschot. His monumental, site-specific objects have found a place all over the world. GingerBlimp is described by the Kroonenberg Group with ‘a bombastic artisanal statement with a touch of huggability’. The artwork weighs 560 kilo – it is a free form, derived from the protrusions of a piece of ginger root. ‘The GingerBlimp is overwhelming because of its size,’ says Molenschot. ‘An immense, genuine object that communicates through its own being. And at the same time, it’s a warm blanket when you come home’.

Bronze hand with painted nails

In front of the door is a 4,5 metre high hand, holding an illuminated Q, is the bronze sculpture by Job Smeets, of Studio Job in Tilburg. Initially, the artist wanted to put an artwork on top of the 75 metre high roof, but this was a bit risky so close to Schiphol Airport. The hand near the entrance has polished nails and symbolizes the creativity of Jeanne Gang, who was named Female Architect of the Year by The Architectural Review (2016). Time Magazine listed her in 2019 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The hand was made using 3D scanning to achieve the human anatomy, but artisans completed the work. Smeets is fascinated by hands. He sculpted those of Michael Jordan gripping a basketball. The first hand he produced was of the racing driver MaxVerstappen. To have created a female hand pleases him, as a counterweight to ‘the hardness dominating the financial world, just down the road.’