A gateway to Amsterdam’s beautiful Oosterpark, Generator Amsterdam opened its doors to surroundings that include exotic birds, ancient willow trees and a whimsical children’s playground.

Generator’s global design partner, DesignAgency has collaborated with local architects IDEA Ontwerp to both convert and restore a former health sciences building and zoological museum, and breathe new life into the hundred-year-old brick structure.

The 168-room hostel followed Generator’s design concept of an array of spaces that encourage social interaction — all at an affordable price. Many of the building’s original, heritage-designated spaces have been preserved and overlaid with contemporary twists.

Blom & Blom collected, restored and redesigned hundreds of light fixtures, many from abandoned factories in East Germany, each of which riffs on the building’s new-old duality. Dutch-French muralist and graphic artist Pieter Ceizer painted slogans on the inside of the elevator shaft. His idea inspired DesignAgency to install glass panes in the elevator cars. Amsterdam’s The Bright Side Gallery coordinated a team of additional artists, including Kamp Horst, Graphic Surgery, Hans van Bentem and Gino Bud Hoiting.

According to DesignAgency principal, Anwar Mekhayech, Generator Amsterdam grew from a process of getting to know the city, meeting people and discovering its existing hotel scene and lifestyle brands. We also explored the opportunities and limitations of the amazing historic building.