When heavy rains batter Amsterdam, swelling the city’s waterways and threatening floods, one community is poised at the ready. Just off the bank of the northern Johan van Hasselt canal lies Schoonschip, a floating neighbourhood designed to rise with the water level. As the canal splashes beneath Schoonschip’s houses, inside, residents are living in what some architects see as the climate-resilient future of urban housing.
“You don’t necessarily need land to make houses,” says Marthijn Pool, co-founder of Space & Matter, one of the architecture firms that contributed to Schoonschip’s design. “Imagine making houses float: You combine the storm-water buffering with the potential of creating new residential areas? Then the residential areas are, from their conception, climate proof.”
“You have to see Schoonschip as a nice step in the evolution of floating cities as they become more sustainable,” says Koen Olthuis, founder of the architecture firm Waterstudio, which contributed to the design of Schoonschip and has led projects to design floating homes and neighbourhoods around the world. “We are still far away from high-density, flexible, seasonal cities that I think the future will bring.”