Crystal Houses, The Netherlands

glass brick facade side view chanel store amsterdam crystal houses
Crystal Houses Amsterdam, Netherlands © Daria Scagolla, Stine Brakke

MVRDV, The Netherlands
Location Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Construction period 2014 - 2016
Nomination category
Building outside the box
Purpose Retail (flagship store) and housing
Usable floor area 620 m² retail and 220 m² housing
Brick type
Facing bricks, glass bricks

Located on PC Hoofstraat, Amsterdam’s shopping street lined with luxury brands, “Crystal Houses” is a flagship store with apartments on the upper floors, combining Dutch heritage and modern architecture. The façade of the lower floors, now home to a flagship Chanel  store, is constructed entirely from glass bricks, while the  façade of the apartments is made of traditional clay bricks. This special design is aimed at providing a solution to the loss of local character, which is often the result of the homogenisation of high-end shopping areas around the world. For the construction, they used glass bricks manufactured in Venice, which were bonded by a special adhesive instead of mortar. With the mix of two different brick materials, the architects created a building that stands out among the others on the street, but which also reflects traditional Dutch brick façades. The energy for heating is provided by renewable sources. “Crystal Houses” therefore perfectly combines traditional and new elements, and sustainability, in both its construction and ongoing use. 

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