Floating Houses

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Building on the water is a different story….. water is not land – a different character – tradition – romanticism – invention – libertarian – system – space – pioneering – adventure – risk – leisure – views – movement – sky and water – individualism – wind and clouds – flouting the rules – contact with the elements – feeding swans from the kitchen window – ice-skating around the house.


Is it a boat? Is it a house? Is it romantic or is it pragmatic? It is a hybrid. It is not what you think it is. Seventy-five floating homes and waterside dyke houses in the private sector.

The Netherlands has a history of living close to water and of coping with its caprices. That means living on land protected by dykes, on mounds, on shore or floating. Only recently have floating homes been eligible as a significant solution to Holland’s modern housing needs. Canals with houseboats are of course a familiar sight in Dutch cities and one may find the occasional floating hotel or restaurant. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in the number of water-based housing developments that share more characteristics with land-based housing.

These floating dwellings form part of an urban design. They are financially classified as immovable properties, and compete with land-based accommodation in their interior volume and comfort level.

The growing enthusiasm for living on the water has two motives. The first one is the rising sea levels and increased precipitation will make it necessary to dedicate ever larger areas of land to water storage basins and peak overflow zones. The second one, some hold that there is already a crucial shortage of new building land. Not everyone shares that view, however: the strategic consolidation of existing towns produces a sharper urban/rural contrast, making many greenfield developments superfluous or even detrimental.

Living on the water is that it fosters a feeling of liberty and of closeness to nature. Living – and working – on the water is in effect the multiple utilization of space. It is also a way of redeveloping obsolete dockland areas and flooded quarries.

Location: Steigereiland is located in the IJmeer between Zeeburgereiland and Haveneiland. It is the first in a series of islands that form the new urban district of IJburg. The “water neighbourhood”, Waterbuurt West, lies along IJburglaan, the main access road to IJburg which passes over the Enneus Heerma Bridge. On Steigereiland, water, quays and jetties form the framework of public space. The island’s inner basin contains two neighbourhoods with floating homes and dyke houses. Waterbuurt West is a compact urban development with a density of 100 homes per hectare. The floating houses are accessed by jetties. Furthermore, a row of dyke houses have been built along Haringbuisdijk. The movable bridges are marked by “follies” in the form of pile dwellings.

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