Schoonschip Amsterdam is a unique residential area: floating, sustainable, circular and initiated by a group of enthusiasts with a shared dream. Space & Matter has been working on this exceptional project since 2010 and it is expected to be completed in 2020. 

Together with a team of consultants, Space & Matter translated the ideas of the Schoonschip initiative group into a smart urban plan and supervising the residents as they realised their own home within that plan. Schoonschip consists of a total of 30 water plots, on which 46 unique water dwellings are being built for more than 100 residents. The first 26 houses are now in place. 







Under construction


Photo credits
Jan Willem Sieburgh (banner)
Isabel Nabuurs

BartelsVedder: construction advice
Gemeente Amsterdam: project management
Grid-Friends: development smart grid
LBP Sight: sound advice
Metabolic: sustainability advice
Esther Roos / BVF project management: guidance, construction, pier and installation
SBR-Curnet: private commissions advice
Spectral Utilities: advice energy project
Tree Delft: installations advice
XA4: fire safety advice
Waterloft: project management, planning, financial advice
Waternet: partner grey water pilot

Space&Matter Team
Sascha Glasl
Tjeerd Haccou
Marthijn Pool
Rogier van den Brink
Daniel Sudkamp
Linda Tonin
Federica Heimler
Willem van Es
Sven Hoogerheide
Martijn van Wijk

‘Seventy percent of the world is covered in water, and the good thing is that we can easily live on it! Since urban areas struggle with high density, we should make better use of the space on the water. With Schoonschip we want to set the example, and show how living on water can be a great and better alternative for people and our planet.’

Each separate house is insulated and equipped with solar panels. Water pumps extract heat from the water in the canal to heat the homes. There is only one connection to the national energy grid, through which residents of Schoonschip trade their generated solar power. Each home has a battery which stores the energy surplus. Waste water from toilets and showers is treated separately and converted back into energy. Many homes also have a green roof, where residents can grow their own food.


Socially sustainable community
Schoonschip is not only sustainable in an ecological sense, but also socially: the residents work closely together to realize their residential area and coordinate their plans. They have agreed to renounce their personal cars and instead share electric cars together. The group also made a conscious search for diversity in the composition of residents. On that note, there are two ‘kangaroo houses’ in Schoonschip, where two households live together on one boat. Meanwhile, the houses are connected by a 'smart jetty' that serves as a pavement and meeting place.


Community currency
The district is connected with a smart grid, which is linked to a blockchain. With their own crypto coin – the Jouliette – the Schoonschip residents can trade the solar power that they generate with the neighbourhood’s 500 solar panels. They can also pay with it in other places around the Buiksloterham area, such as the cafe and restaurant at De Ceuvel, a circularity incubator which Space&Matter also initiated, developed and designed.

Space&Matters partner firms Metabolic and Spectral engineered and realized all the smart technology for energy sharing.


Building on water
Living on water offers a great solution for places where climate change and a rise in sea levels rise are a looming hazard. It not only protects people against nature, it also protects nature itself. Housing on water can be completely footloose, reversible and has very little impact on nature, especially when combined with smart energy and water-sanitation systems like those deployed in Schoonschip.

Building on water has other advantages: houses can be manufactured elsewhere and towed towards their destination, enabling an overnight neighbourhood without any building nuisance for its surrounding area.