The city of Amsterdam has officially opened the Depot Amsterdam Noord, a new repository for the capital’s Stadsarchief city archives. Designed by cepezed and cepezedinterieur, the new building offers nearly double the amount of space of the existing archive facilities. Even more impressive is its use of circular design principles and energy-neutral operations thanks to an airtight envelope, energy-efficient systems and solar panels.

close-up of glossy black building

Realized by BAM Bouw en Techniek within a Design, Build & Maintain assignment, the Depot Amsterdam Noord does not receive visitors and is used solely for the reception, quarantine, intake, cleaning and processing of archival documents. The 2,665-square-meter facility houses all municipal archives from 1811, when Napoleon introduced the Civil Registry. All documents before 1811, as well as posters, prints, photos and film material, are located in the publicly accessible De Bazel building in the heart of Amsterdam

Related: Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands

aisles of brown boxes containing archived content for a city

Located in the northern part of the city, the building sports a “fierce and robust” appearance. “The building block is almost completely closed and from the outside, it does not reveal what it contains,” the architects said. “It has a dark, completely flush and anthracite-colored facade with a horizontal band of solar panels in the middle that is also dark gray. The detailing is minimalist. The sleek and basic character of the building makes for a firm landing of the storage place within its surroundings.” An enlarged version of Amsterdam’s iconic logo — the three red Andreas crosses — have also been added to the gray facade.

room with several aisles of archives on shelves

To achieve a stable, climate-controlled interior, the architects designed the building with an airtight, highly insulating shell with minimal ventilation and an uninsulated concrete floor that acts as a passive heat and cold storage facility. All of the energy the building needs is generated by more than 1,600 square meters of solar panels on its facade and roof; any energy surplus is fed back to the electricity grid. A water management system also ensures responsible stormwater practices. The prefabricated components of the building are detachable, removable and reusable in keeping with the circular ambitions of the design team and Amsterdam.

+ cepezed

Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

white room with giant number 2 painted in red on one wall