The building

The Zandkasteel: way ahead of its time

It was intended to be ‘a human building’. In the early 1980s, the Nederlandse Middenstandsbank – the NMB, forerunner of the ING – decided to have a new office built. The location was to be Amsterdam-Zuidoost, and the building was to become the new, high-profile home for the bank’s various Amsterdam branches. Alberts & Van Huut succeeded admirably in that mission. The architectural firm designed an iconic, organic building perfectly attuned to the human scale. The sand-coloured office – popularly known as ‘het Zandkasteel’ (the Sandcastle) – was completed in 1987 and was an immediate sensation, both inside and outside.

Het Zandkasteel is still one of the largest buildings in Amsterdam with an area of 90,000 m2 (equivalent to almost 13 soccer fields). It consists of 10 towers arranged in an S-shape and connected by an interior street. The shape of the building provides space for three large courtyard gardens. There is plenty of daylight in the building, making the Zandkasteel a very pleasant place to work (and soon, to live!). In addition, the design had a strong focus on sustainability, both in terms of energy consumption and materialisation. In the late 1980s, the Zandkasteel was one of the most sustainable office buildings in the world and thus far ahead of its time.

In 2019, the building was designated a municipal monument by the municipality of Amsterdam – the first such monument in Amsterdam-Zuidoost! A year later, the ING left the building, shortly after which the transformation could begin. This makes the versatility of the building clear: it can be used for many functions from work to living, learning and leisure. The transformation means that the building and many of the materials will be reused. The Zandkasteel – now its official name – is once again a sensation. The building will be a textbook example of optimal circular transformation.