BIG and BARCODE Architects' Sluishuis housing development in Amsterdam is designed to re-shape and open the traditional inner-city courtyard typology to offer a new way of living on the water. It forms part of Steigereiland in IJburg, where the city is building experimental housing. The 46,500m2 development opens the traditionally closed courtyard typology to the IJ lake, and offers 380 apartments around a green courtyard that is also accessible to boats. With two complementary bold and simple gestures, the traditional block is integrated with the water, and abundant daylight and views are brought to the inner units. Towards the water, a gateway is opened by lifting one corner, allowing water and small boats to enter the inner courtyard, and offering a spectacular view to the IJ. Towards the neighbourhood across the road, the block steps down, creating generous terraces and introducing a human scale. The connection with the water is experienced in particular through the inner water courtyard, a jetty promenade, and a public climbing route that offers panoramic views of the IJ. The route connects residents and visitors alike, while broad and tall planters ensure visual privacy for the terraced units. The publicly accessible inner courtyard is a green oasis with a spectacular view to the water. Where the courtyard’s surface meets the water, broad stairs and viewing platforms offer sitting places from which to look out to the IJ. The experience of water is also part of the ground floor program, which includes a water sport centre, a small sailing school, a restaurant, and the van Loon Museum with artworks related to the Dutch East-India Company. A public route to the top of the building culminates in a skybar and viewing platform that offer a panoramic view over the IJ. A jetty promenade encircles the building, creating another public route on the open water. It is composed of small floating pontoon islands, jetties for the houseboats, and small bridges that connect the islands. Residents enter the lobbies through the courtyard, where the common functions encourage meeting and socialization. The units themselves offer housing typologies that cater to a wide range of target groups, thereby strengthening the social sustainability of a neighbourhood that currently focuses almost exclusively on families. These typologies include large caregiving units for the elderly, smaller studios for young professionals, and spacious double-oriented units with generous terraces for families and more affluent buyers.
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