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Waterwoningen IJburg

Dutch architects Marlies Rohmer designed for Water Neighborhood West IJburg, A clear design aesthetic that reflects a new way of life. The houseboats have an interesting composition that clearly refers to the structure and design of the Amsterdam canals. Despite the fact that these are new types fit the history of Amsterdam.

Waterwoningen-IJburg-By-Architectenbureau-Marlies-Rohmer-02-759x505 Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

© Luuk Kramer

75 homes in five variants. 55 houses are floating. This concerns 13 exposed dwellings, 12 blocks each with two houses and 6 blocks with three houses. Along the edge of the wetland come dike houses and the connecting walkways come high houses on stilts. All these properties are in main structure similar: they have an open front and rear, closed sides and the same materials and detailing.

A new location is Water West on Steigereiland in Amsterdam. The developer combination Water District West vof ABC commissioned. The floating houses moored to stakes and via fixed scaffolding accessible. Through the space between the floating homes for berths at the jetty, there is a marina atmosphere.

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© Luuk Kramer

The floating homes are built according to the so-called Dutch method. There is also the floating body of a concrete box, which also serves as a basement (sous l’eau in the name of the architect). The floating capital is derived from the upward pressure. The higher the load is, the deeper the bucket in the water drops. Alternatively, the Canadian method, type pontoons are constructed on the basis of eg EPS with a concrete shell around it.

To include the ceiling height in the water housing is properly made use of the Building Act 2003, says architect-director Floris Hund of architectural Rohmer. The basement – including the bedroom floor – could now be designed at a height of 2.40 m ‘If you go higher, you add weight to the house and have the concrete tank walls get higher. Who have some 30 cm above the water level protrude. This would also be the windows to a level higher and you go free view over the water to miss. ”

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© Luuk Kramer

The basement is also isolated by an insulated double wall with a ventilated air cavity. Water vapor that penetrates the concrete can therefore be freely disposed of. To deep position to prevent substantial savings on weight. The entire structure of the house consists of timber and flooring are made of wood.

The simple construction of the concrete tank is also beneficial for the stability. The focus should therefore namely as low as possible. Yet the barges sensitive in this respect. In the terraced houses – built from boxes of 4.85 x 9.20 m – is that so bad. The exposed houses are built on a wider bucket (6.80 x 9.20 m).

The floating homes are built in Urk by ABC Arkenbouw and across the water to IJburg hazards. Because of the locks to pass through, the width of the housing is limited to a maximum of 7 meters. Meanwhile, 22 of the 55 water homes arrived. According to plan, the Water District West in the spring of 2011 complete. This is because the production of ABC Arkenbouw limited to 6 dwellings per 4 months.

Waterwoningen-IJburg-By-Architectenbureau-Marlies-Rohmer-12-800x1200 Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

© Luuk Kramer

There are three types of floating homes:

  1. type Vancouver, around secluded
  2. Sydney type pairs together
  3. type Seattle, by three interlinked

Features Type Vancouver:

  • 3 levels
  • Approx. 156 m2 usable area
  • 20 m2 roof terrace
  • 13 properties

Features Type Sydney:

  • 3 levels
  • Approx. 107 m2 usable area
  • 14 m2 roof terrace
  • 24 homes

Features Type Seattle:

  • 3 levels
  • Approx. 100 m2 usable area
  • 10 m2 roof terrace
  • 18 properties
Waterwoningen-IJburg-By-Architectenbureau-Marlies-Rohmer-13-759x505 Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

© Marcel van der Burg

Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer


Is it a boat or a house? Is it romantic or utilitarian? It’s a hybrid. It’s not what it appears to be.

Building on water is another story altogether:

Water is not like land. If you plan to build on water, you need to do so with respect for the unique nature of water. Water is pioneering, water is adventure, danger, and relaxation, water lets you elude the rules of dry land. Living on water also means views, movement, boat docked at home, romance, jetties, a sense of individuality, wind and clouds, space, contact with the elements, feeding swans from your kitchen, ice skating around your house…
The houses are built on a shipyard and transported by water to the location.

Waterwoningen-IJburg-By-Architectenbureau-Marlies-Rohmer-15-800x1200 Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

© Luuk Kramer


‘Steigereiland’ (Jetty Island) is located on the IJ Lake (IJmeer) between Zeeburgereiland and Haveneiland. It is the first island in the IJburg island chain. The Waterbuurt district (west) is located on the Steigerdam that forms IJburg’s main access route via the Enneus Heerma Bridge. Water, banks and jetties form the framework of the public space on Steiger Island. There are two neighbourhoods with floating and platform homes in the inland waterways. Waterbuurt West is a compact urban district with a density of 60 homes per hectare. The floating homes are accessed from the jetties. There is also a row of platform homes built along Dwarslaan (dike).

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© Luuk Kramer

Urban development layout of floating homes:

Given the strictly geometrical structure of the triangular allotment – created through the diagonal slicing of the basin by suspended power lines – we tried to give the plotting along the jetties the perception of a seemingly detached informal layout of water dwellings. By varying the distances between the dwellings as well as their orientation, we attempted to create a simple play of continuously varying views. This effect is enhanced by reserving considerable space between the floating homes for boats, thereby achieving a number of objectives without resorting to artifices. These objectives include a pleasant, rumbling character, water ambiance, movement, a sense of individuality, and a boat docked at home. We strive to achieve a sense of laxity and individuality in spite of the project-based approach.

Waterwoningen-IJburg-By-Architectenbureau-Marlies-Rohmer-20-750x1000 Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

© Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

Architecture and a building system with considerable variation:

The building system was designed in order for the dike homes, that are suspended on pylons above the dike on the edge of the basin, to be developed in much the same way as the floating homes, thus creating uniformity throughout the area as a whole. The floating homes are supported by concrete “tubs” submerged in the water to a depth of half a storey. A lightweight supporting steel construction is built on top, which can be filled with glazing and brightly coloured plastic panelling. The occupant can then later change the sides on which he desires a view or privacy. Other options include the possibility to add extensions by means of a pre-designed extension package. Sunrooms, verandas, floating terraces, awnings, etc. can be easily attached to this skeleton frame.

Waterwoningen-IJburg-By-Architectenbureau-Marlies-Rohmer-21-750x1000 Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

© Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

Differences in height between the jetty, water, and front door on the ground floor are bridged by means of a boardwalk around the home that slopes down to the water. The boardwalks also make it possible to walk around the homes – like on a boat – and have close contact with the water.

Several types are available: one to a tub, two to a tub, and three attached social rental dwellings to a tub. The concrete tubs are moored to posts or to the jetty by means of a shore. They are painted bright red and numbered. All in all, it is a no-nonsense, basic design that alludes to the water world, while at the same time creating a comfortable home. It is a hybrid. It is not what it appears to be.

Waterwoningen-IJburg-By-Architectenbureau-Marlies-Rohmer-22 Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

© Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

The floor plans consist of three – freely laid out – storeys. The lowest storey is partly submerged and has room for several bedrooms. The next storey is a raised ground floor that offers privacy from the jetty and the heavily trafficked waterway, but which also offers access to the terrace and the top storey, with a view of, for example, an interior patio.

The layout possibilities are numerous. The top floor juts out, thereby creating two verandas at ground floor level, wonderful relaxing spots for reading a book or, in contrast, socializing.

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© Marcel van der Burg

“On the Steigereiland in the IJ, a compact, urban floating water district was designed with homes in various categories, ranging from owner-occupied housing to social housing. Selection committee: The dwellings are a good example of an urban solution, which through the application of modules has resulted in an almost natural-looking variation. It has an almost Venetian appearance and from a distance, it looks like an inspiring marina. The rudimentary design is a strong feature.” – Dutch Design Awards

Waterwoningen-IJburg-By-Architectenbureau-Marlies-Rohmer-38 Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

© public domain

Project Data:

Project name: Waterwoningen IJburg
Location: Waterbuurt-west, IJburg, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Coordinates: 52.363009, 4.984411

  • Type By Characteristic: Housing, Floating House, Prefab House, Sustainable House
  • Type By Site: Lake House
  • Type By Size: Varies, Small House – (51 sqm – 200 sqm), built from boxes of 4.85 x 9.20 m
  • Type By Structural: Steel House

Project Area: 10,652 sqm
Project Year: 2001-2011
Construction Year: April 2009 – Spring 2011
Status: Built
Completion Year: 2011


  • 2012 – FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Netherlands Awards – Category: Residential Low Rise – Winner
  • 2012 – Dutch Design Awards – Category: Best Exterior – Finalists

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Ontwikkelingscombinatie Waterbuurt West and Woningstichting Eigen Haard
Architects: Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer – Cruquiusweg 111 G, 1019 AG Amsterdam, Netherlands
Project Team: Marlies Rohmer and Floris Hund, Michiel van Pelt, Ronald Hageman, Marc de Vries, Charles Hueber, Martin Koster
Execution: ABC Arkenbouw , Urk
Sound consultant and building physics: Wolf + Dikken, Wateringen
Installation Advisor: Genie Techni Engineering, Grootebroek
Constructor: Van der Vorm Engineering, Delft
Text Description: © Courtesy of Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer, Dutch Design Awards, bouwwereld
Images: © Marcel van der Burg, Luuk Kramer, Roos Aldershoff, Architectenbureau Marlies Rohme

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Waterwoningen IJburg / Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer
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