Ben van Berkel – Founder & Principal architect of UNStudio


25th of January 1957
Architect and Professor
Moebius Huis, Erasmusbrug, Mercedes-Benzmuseum, Arnhem Central Station.

What were your main goals at the beginning of the project? Was it sustainability, aesthetics, or something completely different?
From the outset, we deemed it crucial to engage in some kind of relationship between Park Meadows, the park and its surroundings. We managed to do so by activating the base of the building, the plinth, with vibrant features and urban anchors, and focusing on the outdoor spaces to create a view from and to the green environment. This way, residents can truly experience the best of nature in the comfort of their homes. Additionally, we ensured both volumes were seamlessly integrated into the park through the continuation of mass and materialisation.


Why were you so excited about this project?
While Amsterdam is my favourite city, and home to our headquarters, it’s just magnificent to add something extraordinary, like Park Meadows, to its skyline. It’s such a unique location, on the edge of Beatrixpark, right next to the A10. This part of the city is buzzing! A lot is happening in ‘our backyard’, the Zuid-As. As a design agency, we find it very important to deal with all (local) developments and community aspects responsibly and respectfully.


How does the project reflect the typical ‘Ben van Berkel signature’?
It certainly does, but with a little ‘twist’. It’s not very common for us to cap towers with a prominent crown, as we did with Park Meadows. We used elements from the ‘Amsterdamse School’ as a source of inspiration for the design of the tower tops. Other examples of this are our use of straight lines with selective curves, the embedding of double heights, and the setback of the facade line to create exquisite outdoor spaces – even at the highest levels. I kept Berlage’s style in mind during the entire process; giving the towers this true Amsterdam identity was very important to me.

There’s a noticeable synergy between the building and its location. Could you explain why this is and how it manifests?
Of course! The spot has a dual identity: it’s located in a lush green environment, and part of Amsterdam’s business district, the Zuid-As. To cultivate an interaction with these two contrasts, we had to engage with both. So, while the city is teeming with life, the garden is a transitional zone between the park and the building. And, in this zone, you’ll find the same flora and fauna as in Beatrixpark itself.

What can you tell us about the materials you used in the design?
While part of the same family, both towers have a distinct identity. This called for a unique selection of materials. The West Tower, characterized by a more horizontal design, incorporates sustainable sintered stone. The East Tower, on the other hand, features a rhythm of elegant vertical aluminium slats. To create synergy, as we were talking about earlier, both towers exude a warm and earthy tonality that blends well with the park surroundings. In the design, there’s a strong focus on the 6th facade; the undersides of the balconies showcase wood cladding, while light black bands and frames, present in both towers, bring a cohesive unity to the project.

What’s your perspective on sustainability in architecture, and were you able to reflect your vision in the design of Park Meadows?
We always prioritise passive designs. At Park Meadows, you can see that the basic mass of the volumes optimises sight lines, natural light, sun hours, and the effects of shade. Then, a second layer of sustainability is introduced, including green

roofs, water recovery, insect hotels, solar panels, materialisation, and, without a doubt, the garden that enhances the park’s ecology. The building’s basement accommodates a spacious area for Thermal Energy Storage, extracting heat from the surroundings with heat pumps sustainably, reducing the CO2 footprint. We aim for a high sustainability score and are exploring the certification that aligns best with our values. Realising a green building, in the broadest sense of the term, is our primary goal.

What are you most proud of in the design of Park Meadows?
Responding to both the dynamic context of the Zuid-As and the green character of the park was an immense challenge. Though I do believe we’ve succeeded in that.

What other challenges did you encounter during the process, and were you able to tackle them?
That would be finding the right strategy to mitigate the noise from the A10 and the future Zuid-As tunnel. And, yes, we were able to overcome this. It did have an impact on our design from the beginning. For instance, we incorporated integrated acoustic dampers into the texture of the facades. Ensuring residents can experience the park’s serenity in the comfort of their homes.

What role does the connecting passage between the two towers play in the design?
It was crucial to connect both towers to counteract a division of two worlds. We want to provide a unique experience for the park visitors and residents of Park Meadows; this doesn’t happen if you have two separate towers. So, we designed a transparent atrium; enhancing views to and from the park. Additionally, it effectively captures movement within the space, leaving an impression, I call this ‘the after image’, and amplifies the park’s social safety.

Your inspiration often emanates from Japan. Will we see a reflection of this in Park Meadows?
Absolutely! The Japanese have a profound spatial awareness. You can see this in the way spaces, both interior and exterior, are organised. There’s a strong focus on openness and the relationship between indoor and outdoor. While envisioning a beautiful harmony between the building and its environment, it was crucial to understand the relationship between the two.

What would you say was a unique opportunity in the design?

When driving on the A10, the towers will be one of the first things you see. Therefore, the building serves as the business card of the Zuid-As. By concluding them with an iconic geometric style, they become recognisable anchors in the urban landscape of Amsterdam.

What inspired you most for this project?
It was the park and natural surroundings that inspired us the most, I reckon. We looked extensively at the green environment and worked with simple patterns and textures to create the same dynamic depth you also encounter when walking through a park or forest.

How long have you been working on the design of Park Meadows, and how does it compare to different, similar projects?
So, I started working on the design around the beginning of the pandemic in February/March 2020. Mainly because of this, but also due to other impactful events, such as the war in Ukraine, the project took a bit longer than usual. The past few years have been marked by these significant events; affecting many industries and market conditions. Given these circumstances, it took us about four years from the initial design to the start of the construction – which commences in January 2024.

UNStudio was founded by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos in 1988. With offices in Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Dubai, Melbourne and Austin and over 300 employees from 27 countries, UNStudio enables to spend more time designing and collaborating instead of organising. Want to know more about UNStudio? Visit