BIG and Barcode Architects unveil double cantilevered 'Sluishuis' housing complex

Boasting a jagged form that hovers over the IJmeer lake in Amsterdam, this 46,000 sqm housing development offers a contemporary take on classical courtyard buildings.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Jul 19, 2022

Soaring above the waters of the IJmeer, a bordering lake on the outskirts of Amsterdam, the recently unveiled Sluishuis housing complex by Bjarke Ingels Group and Barcode Architects exerts a dramatic presence upon its context through a jagged, double-cantilevered form. With a programme that accommodates 442 apartments, the structure is a contemporary take on classical courtyard buildings, expanding on BIG’s own experiments with this typology through projects such as the 8 House in Copenhagen and VIA 57 West in New York. Embracing the idea of “living on the water", the building’s form produces unique impressions when viewed from every angle, by virtue of the skewed geometries of its envelope, which forms a gateway from the IJmeer leading into its inner courtyard.

  • The housing complex is situated along the waters of the IJmeer, a bordering lake, and embraces the concept of ‘living on the water’ | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
    The housing complex is situated along the waters of the IJmeer, a bordering lake, and embraces the concept of ‘living on the water’ Image: © Ossip Van Duivenbode
  • Diagram highlighting the building’s location in IJburg | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
    Diagram highlighting the building’s location in IJburg Image: Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

Placed at a nexus point between the water, the city, and the surrounding rural landscape, the development's form has its origins in the layout of a standard perimeter block that has been deformed at two of its vertices to better interact with the context. Towards the IJmeer, the structure’s quadrangular footprint has been elevated in a manner reminiscent of a gateway floating over the lake to allow water to enter parts of the courtyard. Alternatively, the other side features inviting green terraces that cascade down towards the urban sphere of IJburg, a residential borough under construction on artificial islands raised from the lake. Lustrous aluminium cladding envelopes the façade design towards the lake, reflecting the texture of the water below, while the terraces and jetty promenade towards the other side of the structure are dressed in wood. Warm lighting design incorporated into the steps serves to accentuate the contrast in materiality.

The building’s double-cantilevered form exerts a dramatic presence along the urban landscape of IJburg | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
The building’s double-cantilevered form exerts a dramatic presence along the urban landscape of IJburg Image: © Ossip Van Duivenbode

Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner at BIG, reflects on the project’s completion in an official statement: "Having spent my formative years as an architect in Holland at the end of the 20th century, it feels like a homecoming to now get to contribute to the architecture of the city that I have loved and admired for so long.” He adds, “Our Sluishuis is conceived as a city block of downtown Amsterdam floating in the IJ Lake, complete with all aspects of city life. Towards the city, the courtyard building kneels down to invite visitors to climb its roof and enjoy the panoramic view of the new neighbourhoods on the IJ. Toward the water, the building rises from the river, opening a gigantic gate for ships to enter and dock in the port/yard. A building inside the port, with a port inside the building.”

  • Conceptual form development | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
    Conceptual form development Image: Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group
  • Aluminium panels dress the building’s surfaces towards the lake, with terraced balconies that hover over the water | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
    Aluminium panels dress the building’s surfaces towards the lake, with terraced balconies that hover over the water Image: © Ossip Van Duivenbode

On the ground level, the plinth hosts a diverse variety of functional areas such as a sailing school, a restaurant with an open terrace, and a water sports centre. Access to the structure’s interior is availed through the courtyard, leading to a public walkway that runs alongside the terraces to define a green promenade on the building’s road-facing edifice. While ascending this route, visitors can bask in scintillating views of the surrounding urban landscape and the water bodies in its vicinity.

  • The cantilevered sections of the building meet at a vertex that is suspended over the water | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
    The cantilevered sections of the building meet at a vertex that is suspended over the water Image: © Ossip Van Duivenbode
  • The complex accommodates 442 units with both rental and owner-occupied homes | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
    The complex accommodates 442 units with both rental and owner-occupied homes Image: © Ossip Van Duivenbode

Sluishuis' program comprises both rental and owner-occupied homes, catering to users from a wide range of age and income demographics, among others. The units themselves include typologies such as compact urban studios and water sports apartments, in addition to duplex penthouses on the uppermost two floors as well as premium flats with sunny wooden roof terraces with views of the IJburg development. Besides these, the apartments at the bottom of the angular cantilevered section of the building are perhaps the most noteworthy among the range of units under the program. Hanging directly above the water, these apartments feature large windows through which residents can see boats sailing right underneath them. A number of mooring spots, floating gardens, and sitting decks have been ordered as part of a jetty promenade equipped to harbour 34 houseboats along the building’s perimeter. The landscaping around the jetty features local flora, along with a bird island, which together, form an engaging addition to the natural environment along the lake shore.

Towards the land-facing side, the structure cascades down along a series of green terraces finished in wood, with a public walkway that fosters interaction | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
Towards the land-facing side, the structure cascades down along a series of green terraces finished in wood, with a public walkway that fosters interaction Image: © Ossip Van Duivenbode

Sustainability was a core precept in the residential building's design, which achieved an energy performance coefficient of 0.00 according to the architects. Triple glazing, heat recovery, and efficient insulation have been combined to reduce heating requirements, which are addressed by a combination of heat pumps and district heating. Nearly all of the building’s energy needs for heating, heat pumps, ventilation, and LED lighting are sourced from 2,200 sqm of solar panels incorporated into the structure’s design - an essential component of its energy conscious design features.

The internal courtyard hosts local flora and marks an engaging new addition to the surrounding natural environment | Sluishuis | Bjarke Ingels Group + Barcode Architects | STIRworld
The internal courtyard hosts local flora and marks an engaging new addition to the surrounding natural environment Image: © Ossip Van Duivenbode

Andreas Klok Pedersen, a Partner at BIG, ruminates on the project's potential to redefine the shoreline of the IJmeer in an official release, stating: "The world famous urban environment of Amsterdam was created by the fusion of water and city. The new Sluishuis is born of the same DNA, merging water and perimeter block to expand the possibilities for urban life forms around the IJ."

Project Details

Name: Sluishuis
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Area: 46,000 sqm
Year of Completion: 2022
Client: VORM / BESIX
Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Barcode Architects
Collaborators: Van Rossum, Buro Bouwfysica, DWA, Klimaatgarant
Partners in Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Finn Nørkjær, Andreas Klok Pedersen
Project Manager: Jeppe Langer
Concept Design Leads: Dimitrie Grigorescu, Jan Magasanik
Team: Mads Engaard Stidsen, Olly Veugelers, Yulong Li, Dominika Trybe, Lone Fenger Albrechtsen, Anna Odulinska, Sascha Leth Rasmussen, Frederik Skou Jensen, Nina Vuga, Jean Valentiner Strandholt, Justyna Mydlak, Yu Xun Zhang, David Vega y Rojo, Hessam Dadkhah, Alex Bogdan Ritivoi, Dominika Trybe, Kirsty Badenoch, Yannick Macken, Vinish Sethi, Santtu Johannes Hyvärinen, Kirsty Badenoch, Mads Mathias Pedersen, Jonas Aarsø Larsen, Daniel Ferrara Bilesky, Helen Shuyang Chen, Gokce Naz Tercioglu, William Pattison, Keuni Park, Shengpeng Mao, Sherief Al Rifal, Luca Pileri, Anna Bertolazzi, Frederikke Faas, Filip Radu, Simone van de Wiel, Hongduo Zhou, Jagoda Helena Lintowska, Victoria Ross-Thompson, Sebastian Liszka, Brage Mæhle Hult, Martino Hutz, Dina Brændstrup, Sze Ki Wong, Kristoffer Negendahl, Christian Eugenius Kuczynski, Arielle Khosla, Andrea Angelo Suardi, Borko Nikolic, Kim Christensen, Birgitte Villadsen
BIG Landscape: Ulla Hornsyld, Louise Natalie Mould, Manon Otto, Anne Katrine Sandstrøm, Paola Yepes Bocanegra, Camille Inès Sophie Breuil, Lasse Ryberg Hansen
BIG Engineering: Duncan Horswill
BIG Sustainability: Tore Banke

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