The Volkshotel breathes life into a defunct building by accommodating opposites: public spaces for interaction and private spaces for intimacy, views in at street level and views out from upper levels, permanent occupants and temporary guests.
Built for de Volkskrant newspaper, the 1960s concrete structure is open, optimistic and functional. Bas van Tol preserved these qualities while inserting dynamic interiors for contemporary occupants. Tourists, locals, tenants, passers-by, creatives, students, flex workers, professionals and more form a community that brings the complex to life.
Bas van Tol constructed spaces for metropolitan encounters by evoking the physicality of newspaper production and the vanishing world of paper, ink and photographs. Examples of this are the ink raster patterns that enliven the elongated counter and overblown cut-outs of the Volkskrant masthead that adorn the ground-floor walls.
Iconic photographs from the paper’s archives emblazoned along corridor walls show groups rising up in defence of their ideals. Made up of ordinary people, these counter-movements — provos in the 1960s, hippies in the 70s and squatters in the 80s — defined the mood of their eras, just as the images define the spaces of the hotel.
All interior space serves a purpose, but the space around the building allows for reflection. Bas van Tol frames the view with reveals around bedroom windows that are deep enough to sit in or work on.
Simplicity informs the materials and detailing. A patchwork of concrete in various tones of grey on the ground floor suggests some previous activity. Random compositions of multiply in three tones lend each bedroom a unique and crafted feel, so different from the anonymity of standard rooms.
Prints silk-screened by hand directly onto the bedroom walls are a final reminder of the tradition of making that this building symbolises, a tradition revived by Bas van Tol.