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LEVS designs with local spirit


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Major urban planning projects in Russia, a residential tower in the Netherlands that includes various stacked neighbourhoods, and a school in Mali that is made of hydraulically compressed earth blocks and features added residential space for teachers.

As diverse as this summary may sound, all of these projects were designed by LEVS architecten in Amsterdam. All the projects also have in common that they were designed and built for the future, while every aspect and every detail takes into account the particularities of the local history, community and surroundings.

“Our manifesto is Building cities. Creating communities. Making homes.” observes Adriaan Mout. “We believe in sharing and cooperation, and good teamwork with our clients is really important for how we work. We want to cooperate with customers who expect great added value from us, regardless of the scale of their projects.”

In the first few decades the company focussed on Dutch residential and urban planning projects, which often require a creative use of rather limited space in highly populated areas. Like Gershwin Brothers in Amsterdam, a project reflecting the livability of a highly urban district. It adds 160 luxury apartments to the former business area and reinforces a multifunctional urban character with a famous local restaurant.

One of LEVS’s distinctive, recent designs is for the Binck Blocks project in The Hague: a striking nature-inclusive, 130 m-high residential tower that will include several natural areas as well as six blocks of different types of apartments. Thanks to this solution, Binck Blocks will accommodate a variety of residents in six ‘stacked neighbourhoods’.

A few years ago, when the building industry in the Netherlands was still suffering the after effects of the last financial crisis, LEVS architecten decided to look for opportunities elsewhere and initiated a close cooperation with Russian contractors.

Our manifesto is Building cities. Creating communities. Making homes. Adriaan Moutarchitect/partner

“It was very challenging and interesting for us to work on Russian projects. They are generally larger than in the Netherlands and involve more aspects of urban planning,” Adriaan Mout notes. “Here we are used to providing our clients with a full service, including building information modeling (BIM) and project managing during construction. For projects in Russia we make all the designs and models, supervise the construction and take care of quality control, but we are not licensed to take part in the projects directly.”

Two key references in Russia are Forum City in Yekaterinburg and the Komsomolskiy-Sibirskaya project in Tomsk. “With Forum City we organized a community block in a totally different way, opening it up and making it completely accessible for the surrounding area,” enthuses Anna Igumnova, who is from Moscow and joined the firm in 2015 as designer and project leader for the Russian projects. “We paid a lot of attention to the local historical context, and connected it with a new kind of architecture.”

A similar approach in a completely different context, leads to completely different solutions. In rural areas in Mali, educating children is crucial to a better future. LEVS architecten developed a school with a residential area for teachers, using the local building material loam in the form of hydraulically compressed earth blocks.

“What we design will be here for 50, 100 or even more years. In all our projects we feel the responsibility to make them futureproof for the generations to come,” concludes Adriaan Mout.

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