A modern ship on land
Over the last 30 years, the city of Amsterdam has extended into areas once within the precinct of the port. Starting in the 1990s, the manmade islands to the east of the city center were rapidly turned into new residential neighborhoods, followed by the islands of Ijburg, Borneo and Java. Today it is the turn of Zeeburgereiland, an island on one of the main routes for ships entering Amsterdam that had remained underwater until 1910.
The Freebooter residential project for two apartments of approximately 120 sq. m designed by GG-loop, headquartered in Amsterdam, occupies one of the development sites on Zeeburgereiland overlooking the river IJ. Conceived together with the contractor and property developer, the homes have been developed as an experimental prototype for the residential market in this area of Amsterdam that only a few years earlier was uninhabited. The project was also an opportunity to pay tribute to Dutch customs and culture, so closely linked to the country’s maritime past. The residence deliberately resembles a modern “ship on land”, with evident references to the wind, water and sails of old merchant ships. Similarly, the materials - timber, steel and glass - hark back to a ship’s hull. The name of the building refers to the independent entrepreneurs who would put together ships and crew and take to the sea in search of adventure and fortune, an example on the pioneering Dutch spirit. The same adventurous exploratory spirit also fired architect Giacomo Garziano, founder of GG-loop, when he gathered together a team of skilled craftsman and carpenters to realize his vision.
GG-loop’s project also takes on board biophilic design principles - the notion that the user of a building must be the pivotal concern of building design, which must give rise to spaces allowing true connection between nature and the built environment. Spaces designed according to biophilic principles provide a refuge and place of well-being where inhabitants can escape the stress of everyday life, let their creativity blossom, and find well-being and healing. The approach goes hand in hand with sustainable “green” architecture in terms of the materials used, construction techniques and energy efficiency. In a holistic sense, a biophilic project connects with and protects the natural world by using natural, completely biodegradable materials.
One of the most important characteristics of Freebooter is the use of light, the natural element of prime importance for the architecture and art of northern European countries. The changing quality of light over the day and seasons was studied by Garziano for a whole year before designing the façade, in order to meet the requirements of natural daylighting while simultaneously allowing for an appropriate level of privacy. The solution was a two-skin façade: an inner glazed skin separating the interiors from the exterior, and a parametric envelope made up of sinuous timber louvers of different length, thickness and spacing ensuring optimal lighting throughout the apartments from all sides.
As well as ensuring zero transmission coefficient between interior and exterior, the space between the double façade creates another flexible living space for the occupants. The four-story building comprises two apartments, each with its own ground floor entrance. One apartment is on the ground and first floors while the other stands on the second and third floors. The day zone in both apartments faces north-east and has large glazed windows overlooking the river IJ. All bedrooms are on the upper floors of the respective apartments. Distribution and interior finishings have been designed to create a sense of well-being in spaces that encourage easy relaxed living. The hybrid structural frame is a combination of cross laminated timber (CLT) and steel, designed and assembled offsite and ready for installation on arrival at the worksite. Meticulous attention to every construction detail during execution allowed for exceptionally fast build-time that kept within a stringent budget.
In light of the all-round success of this project in terms of construction, value for money, and property development potential, the stakeholders are now working to use the prototype on a wider scale. The idea is to develop a basic module in CLT that can be assembled to form more complex residential units to meet the new urban development requirements in the new areas on the periphery of metropolitan areas in The Netherlands.
GG-loop’s project is the deserved winner of numerous awards. The practice notes, however, that it is proudest of the spontaneous acknowledgement by the occupants, who have shown they fully understand what their new homes have to offer, introducing plants and living life according to the principles that gave rise to the building.
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Clients: Esther Dunning, Frank Noë (apartment 1); Gwendoline Gerbrands,
Aure Davids (apartment 2) - Usable Floor Area: 120 m2 (apartment 1); 120 m2
(apartment 2) - Architect: GG-loop
Developer: Johan Beijers, Giacomo Garziano
Design Team: Giacomo Garziano, Robbie Nijzen, Simone Peluso, Daniele Colombati, Jan-Willem Terlouw, Piergiorgio Angius, Luis Cascales, Krzysztof Zinger
Main Contractor: Kolthof BV
Structural: Pieters Bouwtechniek
Installations Engineering: Mabutec
Switches: LS 990 in aluminum dark by JUNG
Text by Caterina Testa
All images courtesy of GG-loop