Developers with vision: without them, Zuidas would never be what it is today. ‘As a developer, you need to be able to think ahead and anticipate development’, says Ruitenburg. When the plot where Valley is now being built became available, EDGE was immediately interested. ‘Even then, it was a superb location. Close to Oud-Zuid, next to the station and Beethovenstraat. We also predicted at an early stage that Zuidas would be even more international and dynamic by 2021.’
According to Ruitenberg, that development is needed in order to do proper justice to the multifunctional building that Valley will be. ‘It’s important for people to want to live here and to feel the need to visit the hospitality venues and cultural amenities – even if you don’t live in Zuidas.’ Valley was designed with the ambition of adding something new to the area, both in terms of architecture and the quality of the amenities and housing, in order to raise the area and the wider city to the next level. The extraordinary design by Winy Maas (MVRDV) achieves that, believes Ruitenburg. ‘The fact that no single corner or angle is the same makes it different from other buildings in Zuidas. That’s why I’m certain that Valley will become a landmark. But also because it encompasses so many public functions.’ It will be a place where everyone is welcome. Featuring a swimming pool, a gym, various restaurants, offices, 198 rental properties, and a museum, Valley will be the first building in Zuidas to bring together so many different functions.
People will have an opportunity to become acquainted with Valley later this year. Ruitenburg: ‘We’re looking forward to that. In the last two years in particular, Valley has started to shape up as we imagined it. In the upcoming period, the hanging gardens designed by architect Piet Oudolf are being put in place and are set to give Valley its specific character.’ Ruitenburg has high expectations. ‘Creating the gardens is a huge operation, but what I find really special is the fact that the building’s appearance will actually change with the seasons as a result.’ Unusually, the contract with the Council includes a clause stating that the gardens really have to look just as lush and accessible as they do in the artist’s impressions. ‘Of course, the plants will be an important addition in such an urban environment. I actually expect to see much more focus on plants and greenery in the design of tall buildings, especially in densely built-up areas. Sustainability and quality of life are becoming increasingly important. That also calls for amenities that are good for people’s health or invite you to relax.’
Ruitenburg’s enthusiasm about Zuidas is infectious. ‘It’s simply a wonderful area that still has so much potential. Of course, the canal belt is really beautiful, but has a different kind of protected charm. In that respect, Zuidas is much more focused on the future.’ Ruitenburg compares the development of Zuidas with Manhattan in New York. ‘The New York skyline that’s so characteristic didn’t happen overnight. The urban density and intensity of use just continued because of the lack of space and demand for square metres. Despite the constraints on high-rise construction in the vicinity of Schiphol, I still think this will happen in Zuidas. I anticipate that Zuidas has an extraordinary future awaiting it, with countless architectural and cultural developments, precisely because of the physical space here, ready to be intensified. And, just like in Manhattan, you shouldn’t be surprised if, in ten years’ time, the first buildings are already being redeveloped or even demolished in order to add more residential towers alongside new offices.’