How to transform a college into a community hub

A project by Strelka alumni has won the Europan NL competition for the redevelopment of the Media College in Amsterdam. 

Media Sloboda

‘Media Sloboda’ by Aleksandr Zinoviev, Irina Shmeleva, and Konstantin Budarin proposes transforming the college area on Transformatorweg Street into the Media Hub, a multifunctional space that can be used by students, industry professionals, and the general public. 

The area is located in an industrial part of Amsterdam that is undergoing active development.

The architecture of the proposed hub is a combination of the vertical and the horizontal. The horizontal part contains all the productive elements – the university, workplaces, and commercial and public spaces. The vertical part is residential housing, which diversifies usage of the area.

The project team suggests using a room instead of a building as a measuring unit, allowing for the creation of a large amount of autonomous spaces open to various types of users. 

“We incorporated three new volumes into the college space. These spaces are multifunctional zones that will be used by media professionals and students,” analyst Konstantin Budarin told Strelka Magazine.

“The students will thus have access to more advanced equipment and, of course, will be closer to industry.”

Media Sloboda
Media Sloboda
Media Sloboda
Media Sloboda

The tool that makes the hub open is a web interface. The architecture of the hub serves as an infrastructure. According to the team, “the spaces and technology the hub hosts are a toolbox, and the web interface enables accessing that toolbox.”

The project proposes a more practical use of the space and time for the hub. 

“The university is only used in the first part of the day, during classes. The rest of the day the area is empty. We want to change the way this space works. We don't see it as just one facility that only works during some hours. We see it more like a collection of smaller entities that can work separately from the college. The new facilities that we want to bring to the building can easily work at any time of the day. They can be reached anytime simply by a web interface. In the evening, they can be a public educational space, and at night they can be used by late-night film crews, etc. This space can be used non-stop,” architect Irina Shmeleva said.

The name of the project, ‘Media Sloboda,’ comes from the medieval Russian settlements inside or nearby a city, where residents often belonged to the same occupation and were freed from taxation.

The jury described the project as a promising proposal. “The proposed building cluster establishes new visual, functional, and movement connections with its surroundings, while creating a nice interior world with interesting spatial configurations on the ground level and second floor.” 

Budarin, Shmeleva, and Zinovyev graduated from the Strelka Institute in 2015.

Text: Timur Zolotoev