Hovering above Amsterdam’s sprawling waterway network, SWEETS hotel’s inimitable take on guesthouse living has brought a new experiential edge to the city’s already unique style.
The brainchild of Amsterdam based architecture office Space&Matter (well known for its eco-space De Ceuvel), project development partner Grayfield and architect Seven New Things, this urban development-turned-conceptual suite project has rescued 28 neglected bridge houses, then revitalised and renovated them into individualistic hotel rooms like no others in Amsterdam.
For a century, these buildings homed the city’s bridge keepers tasked with allowing boats to flow freely along the waterways. Yet the introduction of a centralised control system left the bridge houses redundant – until 2012, that is.
Seven years ago, a plan was presented to the city of Amsterdam to transform the bridges into unique hotel rooms, with the vision to “introduce travellers to new neighbourhoods and unexpected experiences in the city”. The following year, the SWEETS hotel concept took centre stage at the Amsterdam Architecture Centre, winning critical acclaim as part of a popular architectural guidebook exhibition.
Today, 11 of the rooms are up and running. There’s no hotel lobby or reception at SWEETS – instead the whole city has become a hotel with the suites scattered along the waterways. You enter through mobile keys and all the instructions are sent to you. The city is your host and tells you all you need to know.
These bridge houses are absolute architectural gems, with the structural styles highlighting the change in building design throughout Amsterdam’s history. Amstelschutsluis, located in the middle of the Amstel River, dates back to 1673, whilst the newest house in SWEETS portfolio, Sluis Haveneiland, was built in 2009 – this is a hotel that engulfs the entire of the city’s canal heritage.
Whether it’s the centre of town, a less-explored neighbourhood, beside the docks, or on the edge of a park, SWEETS hotel showcases the diverse nature of Amsterdam at its finest. The cubic-inspired Meeuwenpleinbrug, a 1960s bridge house perched in the leafy oasis of Noorderpark, is an eye-catching example of Dutch architecture, whilst Kattenslootbrug sits on the cusp of vibrant Jordaan and fits the ethos of the ‘Amsterdam School’ design style of the 1950.
The challenge, according to Marthijn Pool, one of the project’s architects and co-founders, was “to turn these extroverted objects into intimate spaces” – something each suite’s interior unequivocally answers. Reflective of the entire concept, imaginative and inventive design is prominent in each suite to maximise a minimal space. Space-saving furniture has been custom built to tesselate perfectly with the asymmetrical lines of each differing suite, whilst hand-made beds and integrated en-suite bathrooms add to the unified interior.
But the highlight of each suite is the idyllic views across the waterways – you aren’t just staying on the side of the canal, you’ve got your own little slice of the city for your break in Amsterdam.
With the remaining suites set to be completed gradually over the next 18 months, SWEETS hotel is bringing something new to Amsterdam – something for the experience-hungry nomad to enjoy. SWEETS hotel’s artistic director Suzanne Oxenaar, said ‘city space is a malleable and beautiful process, where culture has a key role to play’, and that’s just the idea and ethos this conceptual project lives by.