Student Experience Minervahaven (SEM) is an urban activator in a changing dockland area of Amsterdam. SEM is designed to meet the growing demand for extended stay accommodation in the city by international students.
The complex has a number of facilities specifically aimed at international students. Besides the almost 600 rooms, it provides a variety of functions: a coffee bar, a ‘laundry bar’ (launderette with bar), gym, lounge, study, conference and commercial spaces and a light street-level bike facility. These functions are all located on the ground floor. In this way SEM offers a socially safe and enjoyable residential location and an informal environment in which students can easily make contact with one another.
A key feature of the design stage was the creation of a third place: a spot where the young residents could soon feel at home and get to know one another. Those ambitions are made good by collective spaces on the green roofs, such as sports facilities and various roof terraces. A half-sunken underground car park creates a split level and differentiates the collective spaces for the students. The combination of raw materials with the light touch of the meticulous details of the interior makes the residents feel at ease. The multifunctional plinth, orientated towards an accessible green inner garden, also contributes to the pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. The shape, orientation and appearance of this inner garden are reminiscent of a monastery garden. The various functions grouped around this inner garden are visible. It is thus a place that invites the students to spend time there and to meet one another.
The Minervahaven is a former dockland area that is currently in a transitional phase. The former dock activities are gradually making way for a growing number of international media and fashion companies. In the future it will form a part of the large-scale urban transformation to the residential Haven-Stad zone. SEM affords a point of orientation in this process. It activates the neighbourhood with its functions and new users as well as mediating between the existing industrial or commercial buildings and the future high-density housing estate.