Retrofitted houseboats transformed into...

Posted by Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling

Although there are all different types of offices (including homes and coffee shops) it’s pretty safe to say that few of us work in a boat. A new effort to transform an Amsterdam brownfield into useable space aims to change that assumption, however.

De Ceuvel is the name of a project that hopes to use retrofitted houseboats as offices in an interconnected coworking community that will be located adjacent to the van Hasselt kanaal in Amsterdam North. The waterfront property is actually a heavily-polluted brownfield site leased that’s been leased from the City of Amsterdam for ten years. Designers Space&Matter and Smeele Architecture hope that De Ceuvel will transform the formerly vacant industrial plot into an eco-haven for creative professionals.

De Ceuvel, coworking, brownfield

Image via Space&Matter and Smeele Architecture

According to the EPA, brownfields are properties whose reuse “may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”  The Netherlands may have a different definition, but the fact remains: because of the contamination left behind by a previous occupant, it’s very difficult to rebuild or lease these properties.

Tired of looking at the polluted former home of the de Ceuvel Volharding shipyard, the City of Amsterdam hosted a competition in 2010. Firms were invited to submit ideas for how they would upgrade the site and restore it to a working piece of property. Space&Matter and Smeele Architecture collaborated on the winning design, which upcycles houseboats into a regenerative site for creative agencies.

De Ceuvel

Image via Space&Matter and Smeele Architecture

“The site, which is now heavily polluted, will feature imaginatively retrofitted houseboats placed around a winding bamboo walkway and surrounded by an undulating landscape of soil-cleaning plants,” explain the designers. “Each of the upgraded boats will house offices, ateliers, or workshops for creative and social enterprises. ”

“This organic way of cleaning the soil will result in a working landscape, cleaning the soil while creating habitat and producing low-impact biomass,” they continue. “The biomass from the area will be used to develop products and energy. A small biomass gasifier at the site will convert the biomass into energy, which is used in the houseboats on site.”