The IJburg neighbourhood is the latest district of Amsterdam built over a number of artificial islands which have been raised from the IJmeer lake. The ambitious project is still under construction, but more than 20,000 people have already moved in. When complete, the neighbourhood will have 18,000 homes for 45,000 residents as well as schools, shops, leisure centers, restaurants, and beachs. One of its many innovative housing projects is taking place in Waterbuurt or Water District.
Waterbuurt is part of the IJburg neighbourhood and is located on ‘Steigereiland’ (Jetty Island) which forms IJburg’s main access route via the Enneus Heerma Bridge. The neighbourhood has 75 (93, according to Financial Times) individual floating houses moored around slender jetties like house boats.
Photo credit: George Steinmetz
The floating homes are supported by buoyant concrete tubs submerged in the water to a depth of half a story. A lightweight supporting steel construction is built on top, which is fitted with wooden panelling to make rooms and floors. Bedrooms and the bathroom are contained in the lowest story, which is partly submerged. The raised ground floor houses kitchen and dining spaces. Connected to an open terrace deck, the main living area occupies the cantilevered upper floor. Sunrooms, verandas, floating terraces, awnings, etc. can be easily attached to this skeleton frame.
The houses were built at a shipyard about 65 km north of IJ Lake, then tugged though canal locks, which means the houses can’t exceed widths of more than 6.5 meters. To ensure that the homes don’t drift away or into one another, they’re anchored to the lake bed by steel mooring poles.
Experiments with living on water need to take place, especially in a country like Netherlands where two-thirds of the population lives below sea level. The country has spent billions keeping water at bay by building some of the world’s most fantastic dykes and barriers. Floating neighbourhoods is also a solution to the problem of rising sea level and housing shortage in dense metropolitan areas.
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