Located on the outskirts of Amsterdam, the 49,000 m2 floating neighborhood with public roofscapes and riverwalks reinterprets the classic courtyard typology for life on the water.
Developed by Amsterdam-based joint venture VORM/BESIX, the mixed-use development Sluishuis in the neighborhood of IJburg Steigereiland is officially complete following four years of construction. Designed by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group and Barcode Architects, Sluishuis includes 442 zero-energy owner-occupied and rented homes, a public rooftop garden and walkway, and a comprehensive water-quality program with space for up to 30 houseboats.
“Thanks to their solid technical expertise, BESIX Group and partner VORM succeeded in constructing a technically complex project that includes a cantilever construction and a two-story underground parking garage below the water level. We generated this icon on the water by building a temporary island and have now proudly returned Sluishuis to the water,” says Nic De Roeck, Managing Director BESIX Nederland.
Located between the dense city and the vast landscapes on the edge of Amsterdam, Sluishuis is shaped by its surroundings, in proximity to both large infrastructure and small-scale urban communities. A classic courtyard building, Sluishuis fully embraces the idea of living on the water and appears different from every vantage point. Facing the water, the block is lifted up, forming a large opening that brings water from the IJ Lake into the courtyard and brings daylight and views into the building’s inner apartments. Toward the neighboring urban district, the block steps down like a cascade of landscaped terraces, creating a natural transition from cityscape to smaller scale natural surroundings.
“Having spent my formative years as an architect in Holland at the end of the 20th century, it feels like a homecoming to get to contribute to the architecture of the city that I have loved and admired for so long. Our Sluishuis is conceived as a city block of downtown Amsterdam floating on the IJ Lake, complete with all aspects of city life. Towards the city, the building kneels down to invite visitors to climb its roof and enjoy the panoramic view of the new neighborhoods on the IJ. Toward the water, Sluishuis rises from the river, opening a gigantic gate for boats to enter and dock in the port/yard. A building inside the port, with a port inside the building.” said Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.
A promenade with public programs winds around the building and continues into the water, forming an archipelago of islands for houseboats, a sailing school, and floating gardens. A public passage climbs the cascading terraces of the building, serving as a small rooftop street that eventually loops onto the very top of the building to create a viewing platform over the IJ Lake. The passage not only creates a destination for visitors and residents but connects the residential units to one another, bringing a sense of community to the building’s residents.
“The world-famous urban environment of Amsterdam was created by the fusion of water and city. The new Sluishuis is born from the same DNA, merging water and perimeter block and expanding the possibilities for urban lifeforms around the IJ.” Andreas Klok Pedersen, Partner, BIG added.
The silhouette of Sluishuis changes as one moves around the building. At one vantage point it appears like the bow of a ship that reflects the water below; at another, a vertical green community that invites visitors to engage directly with it; and finally, as a true urban block with street access and city liveliness to be enjoyed by residents, neighbors, and the rest of Amsterdam.
“With iconic architecture, as well as new housing typologies, high-quality outdoor spaces and breathtaking views of the IJmeer, Sluishuis is a new landmark for IJburg as well as Amsterdam.” Dirk Peters, Partner, Barcode Architects.
The sustainability of Sluishuis is an integral part of the project. With an energy performance coefficient (EPC) of 0.00, Sluishuis generates more energy than it consumes. The building’s heating requirements are minimized by combining high-performance insulation techniques, triple glazing and heat recovery on the ventilation systems and wastewater. Energy consumption is further reduced by a heat and cold storage (CHS) system in the ground for heating and cooling, in combination with a connection to the district heating system for peak times. The remaining energy consumption for heating, heat pumps, ventilation and LED-lighting is fully compensated by approximately 2,200 m² of solar panels, to which an entire floating island adjacent to the project is dedicated.
The development team of Sluishuis paid particular attention to greenspace and water collection. Designed by BIG Landscape, the front sides and the inner harbor of the building feature gardens with local plant species. The greenery runs across the roof terraces up into integrated planters, creating a vibrant green atmosphere over time.