What were once 28 unused canal-side bridge houses are now a series of hotel suites reused by Dutch architecture firm Space&Matter for the SWEETS hotel. The hotel concept is that of adaptive reuse, essentially reusing an old building for something that it originally was not used for. More importantly, this approach gives new life to existing structures rather than deploying the extensive resources needed for new construction.
Originally built spanning a time frame between 1673 and 2009, the old structures were used for the city’s bridge keepers, those who were responsible for the opening and closing of the bridges as boats and water traffic came through. In modern times, where the bridges are now controlled electronically, the houses eventually became vacant and unused.
To avoid the structures falling into dangerous disrepair, the architects gave new life to the buildings. Even better, the hotel suites continue to respect the early architecture by each representing the history of the specific building through different architectural styles. Interiors of each house distinctly match the exterior in terms of style and architectural period. The suites became, in essence, tiny homes, marked by a distinctive minimal footprint with some floors originally as small as 21 square feet in size.
The designers were forced into unique creativity, accomplishing tasks such as transforming small structures with just a few square feet of floor space into two-person, multilevel suites with a bathroom, a double bed, a seating area and a pantry.
As of 2018, 11 of the homes were available to book, with the 17 remaining structures set to be remodeled in the coming years. Because the suites are connected through the canals, as the original bridge houses were, the concept is new to both visitors and locals alike. The project is an ode to the industrial and cultural heritage of Amsterdam and brings to light the importance of water to the area. The suites, spread all throughout the city, are a love letter to Amsterdam architecture, from Amsterdam School to Modernism.
Photography by Mirjam Bleeker and Lotte Holterman via SWEETS hotel