Architects are rarely given the latitude to let their creativity run wild. But when architects are both designer and client, they have the oppor­tunity to really push the envelope. In the case of Patch22, an Amsterdam apartment building con­structed by Frantzen et al architecten and financed by firm founder Tom Frantzen’s Lemniskade Projects, the envelope in question is a striking wooden one fea­turing a staggered box composition and exposed-truss pattern.

Frantzen drew inspiration for the signature redwood trusses from the building’s surroundings: an industrial harborside neighborhood that is being transformed into a mixed-use urban area. These 450-millimeter-wide-by-800-long beams span the front exterior of Patch22’s six floors, criss­crossing plate-glass windows that overlook the river IJ. Douglas fir impreg­nated with fungicide clads the east and west elevations. All sides of the building’s interior struc­tural wood elements are 80 milli­meters thicker than standard dimensions, to increase burn time and meet fire regulations. Patch22, in fact, is the first apartment building in the Netherl­ands to use this approach to fire safety, as the country has no prece­dent for wooden residential structures.

Patch22’s industrial aesthetic carries through to the interiors, which feature glue-laminated and cross-laminated timber trusses paired with raw concrete floors and beams. Much of the building’s ground floor is wrapped in glass rather than wood, a decision Frantzen made as he envisioned the various functions for this level, retail and office space included. The floor’s transparency gives the rest of the structure—also the tallest residential building in the Netherlands—the appearance of floating above the site. Adds Frantzen, “It looks as if the wind shook up all the floors.”

Room to Breathe

Branching Out

A 10-foot-high bamboo dome sits in the main room at New York’s Inscape, a meditation studio designed by Archi-Tectonics. The dome is backlit with colorful LEDs and draped with light-emitting sailcloth.

Photo courtesy Archi-Tectonics

Tranquility can be hard to find in distraction-rife New York. To aid in the process, entrepreneur Khajak Keledjian developed Inscape, a 6,000-square-foot guided-meditation studio in Manhattan’s Flatiron district.

Keledjian tapped local firm Archi-Tectonics, led by Winka Dubbeldam, to help him realize his vision. Understanding that “meditation requires a different state of mind, a transition into a completely ‘other’ space,” says Dubbeldam, she fashioned an immersive environment that creates “an erasure between ceiling and walls and a continuous surface of light and shadows.”

The architect opted for a series of soft ellipsoid spaces, the most dramatic of which is the main room; it contains a spiraling 10-foot-high bamboo dome draped with light-transmitting sailcloth. The 11⁄2-inch-wide bamboo latticework extends from the ceiling to the structure’s base, meeting the Plyboo—bamboo plywood—bench that encircles the room. A floor of flat-grain Plyboo completes this natural wood wrapper.

At the base of the dome, LEDs produce a low, brightly illumi­nated ring that recalls a horizon. Gradated light travels upward toward the ceiling, glowing softly through the fabric before culiminating in a brilliant spot located in the center of the latticework. “The open oculus symbolizes eternal space and an opening of the mind,” says Dubbeldam of that crowning feature. “Once inside the dome, with its controlled environment of light, sound, and air, one can concentrate on oneself, leaving the world outside.” —SK