Weesperplein in the heart of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, has been transformed into a bustling and welcoming urban oasis thanks to the efforts of Studio PolyLester.

Urban design by Amsterdam based Studio PolyLester
Realisation summer 2022
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Client: Capital C and the municipality of Amsterdam
Contractor: Grijsen Park- en Straatdesign

Peel Plaza by PolyLester - Sheet4

The Amsterdam municipality and the city’s most notable creative hub, Capital C, held an urban design competition, and the winner was Gabriel Lester, founder of PolyLester, who proposed a multipurpose hospitality terrace and public inner-city hangout.

The idea for this oasis came to Lester when he envisioned a spring bursting forth from the concrete desert. At the same time, the sculpture seems to be the consequence of tearing away layers of urban surface by emphasizing the gesture of peeling.

The initial design was refined in consultation with the landscape architects and urban planners of the City of Amsterdam, as well as the contractor ‘Grijsen Park- en Straatdesign,’ so that the artwork would become a permanent fixture in the public space and blend inconspicuously with the newly designed landscape around Weesperplein.

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A city Oasis

Time often seems to have stopped in Gabriel Lester’s works of art and design. It’s like a frozen moment, where time stands still but everyone’s welcome to stay. The expressive sculptures that make up Peel Plaza are meant to reflect just such a temporal intervention in time. Under our feet and above our heads, time is unfolding in three-dimensional space.

The peels suggest being lifted off the ground on Weesperplein through a series of striking spatial gestures. Like the skin on a piece of fruit curling up from the surface. When taken as a whole, the Peels create a work of art that is both physically accessible and colossal in scale.

A terrace deck, from which the Peels climb up entwined with the rows of trees on Weesperplein, and equipped with specially built seating places, reinforces the concept of an oasis in the city through the artwork’s interaction with the public space. At the same time, these components disclose a visual melody through a rhythmic interplay of lines, much like a musical score. Weesperplein is transformed into a one-of-a-kind urban dwelling place through the integration of plants, sculpture, and practical design. A public space made alive by the people who congregate there to relax or socialize.

Day and nighttime visual highlights
Subtly integrated into the revitalized urban landscape around Weesperplein, the artwork uses a unifying materialization of wood, Corten steel, and planting. The outcome is a visually arresting symphony that stretches from the Nieuwe Achtergracht to the Sarphatistraat. An optimal layout that reveals hidden gardens. At dusk, the Peels are subtly illuminated, revealing the composition as a dance of gestures and movements that accentuates and embellishes the square as darkness falls.

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Peels by Gabriel Lester

In Gabriel Lester’s design for the, the aesthetic qualities of mundane actions—like peeling a piece of fruit or watching shavings curl from a shelf—are amplified and given a monumental character “Lester has created several large-scale wooden artworks centered on sculptural curls over the past decade. Some of these artworks have a more solemn appearance than others, while others are more whimsical.

This led the artist to create his own unique lexicon of inverted, upright, and double-turned positions “Peels. Forms and movements that allude to the swaying of the ocean, the beautiful spin of a dancer, or the billowing of a garment in the breeze. With the medium of sculpture, the suggestion of motion is materialized and frozen in time”.

Studio PolyLester Biography

Gabriel Lester founded PolyLester in 2013, and it’s a multidisciplinary studio focusing  on public artworks, architectural interventions, landscape and interior design, and even theater set design. Including a wide range of collaborations with a.o. and commissioned artworks and designs by Gabriel Lester since 2001. Irma Boom, Koen van Velsen architecten, KRFT, URA, Hangmen, Hella Jongerius, Rem Koolhaas (OMA), Barcode Architects, Monadnock, BeauArchitects, Auguste van Oppen, and Richard Niessen are just a few of the notable names in architecture. Established in Amsterdam, we serve clients worldwide.


Contact information

Contact Gabriel Lester at lester@gabriellester.com for PolyLester.


Peal Plaza Responses


Director of Capital C Thomas Zwart:

“Being a part of Capital C has the tremendous perk of always immersing us in stimulating works of art and design. After all, the creative sector and the art world both converge at the capital “C.” Peel Plaza, a public sculpture by Gabriel Lester, is located right outside our front door, and we couldn’t be more pleased.


Grijsen Park- and Straatdesign, Patrick Greyen:


As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” This might be anything from the degree of polish applied to the wood to the ambiance created by the lights after dark. It’s awesome to see how frequently people visit Peel Plaza. It is both a work of art and a practical addition to the building and its surrounding public area. I found myself occasionally marveling at the workshop’s vastness. It stretches for a total of 25 meters and is narrower than 8 meters in width. But it works wonderfully where it’s installed; it’s a big plus.


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