A canal house is an olden-day type of house usually found in Europe. This type of house faces a canal which is an artificial waterway for shipping, travelling, and irrigation. These are also known as grachtenpand in Dutch, serve the dual purpose of storage and residence with them being deep, high and slim most of the time. These buildings are designed with storage for trade goods placed in the attic, basement. Canal houses often contain a pulley system in the attic to move valuable goods. Gardens were placed at the back of the canal house, sometimes together with a summer house, primarily for relaxation. The summer houses were also built at the building’s back extension, with a path connecting it to the front house.
Canal houses are sometimes reproduced or mirrored by the same contractor, these types of houses are known as twin or triplet houses. These can also have up to four or five identically designed houses with a design smaller than that of a normal canal house. These double-wide houses were built on two land plots with a few of them having back houses and were located on the canals in Amsterdam. Some of these houses were referred to as city palaces, as they contained warehouses and carriage houses behind the house. Most canal houses were turned into living accommodations at the end of the second world war due to changes in transport and trading patterns, reducing the reliance on canal houses as warehouses.
A neglected seventeenth-century canal house was converted by i29, an Amsterdam-based design studio, to a bright home with colourful interiors and astonishing views. This building was named the canal house and was constructed in 1675 along the canals near Amstelveld in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The building deteriorated over the years, with the house falling into nearly a state of complete ruin before the commencement of renovation by i29 in 2020. The renovation involved the collaboration of a team of specialists and took more than two years, with the building completed in 2022. The renovated building covers an area of one hundred and fifteen square metres with modern elements within the building while retaining the original details to make a light-filled home with hidden and colourful rooms.
The building’s renovated interior spaces are accentuated with different colours in various areas of the house, thereby giving the antique a new view. The original details of the house were either hidden or exposed in new, colourful rooms. Unexpected sight-lines and the spatial experience were created by I29 studio through the connection of different spaces by the use of finishes or colours which blend seamlessly from one space to another. Sharp contrast was created in the renovated house by the use of all-white background, green glass volume detail and wooden details which additionally created the dominant feeling of comfort and cleanliness in this space. The new finishes and renovation are completely recognizable due to the aim of the i29 design studio to create a difference from the existing structure.
The kitchen, guest room and living room are the spaces found on the ground floor of the renovated canal house. Light walls and white concrete were used to finish the kitchen space located on the ground floor. The kitchen was custom-made with oak, and the dining table was made from oak as well. The study room on the upper floor is connected with the kitchen through an oak wall stained grey, forming an elegant entrance to the rooms on the top floor. The guest room is fitted with garden access and an en-suite bathroom hidden behind a green glass volume and located on the ground floor. The grey oak wall is used as an acoustic covering in the form of a fabric wall in the living room. The relaxation or reading space is covered with a calming blue finish and located in the living room behind the rotating book wall.
The sleeping section is located upstairs, and i29 proposed the sleeping quarters to radiate luxury and comfort experienced in a hotel. A mirrored volume is used to enclose the shower area and stairwell and separate them from the master bedroom, which retains its original roof construction. Two-way mirrors were used to construct the shower walls to allow a direct view of the canal. A freestanding matching sink and a traditional Japanese bath made with wood were both utilized in the adjacent bathroom. The renovation of the seventeenth-century house involved custom-made new and designed interventions to raise the house to a higher level and completely fit the existing environment.
The major point of attraction in the renovation of the house is the use of colour. Colours were used to attract the eye through the various spaces by i29, with the chosen colours ending up on the spaces. The kitchen utilized grey oak cabinets, white concrete floors and light walls. The dining table is grey-stained oak, and it extends to the kitchen as a counter top. A glass-enclosed deep green space is located just beyond the kitchen, and it leads to an all-white en-suite bathroom and guest bedroom. The other end of the kitchen is marked with a grey-stained oak, and it less to the study on the upper floor through a staircase. The study is in green colour from the walls, floor, and ceiling around to the unique built-in desk use to furnish the study. The living room continues the use of green with the fabric wall covering developed for acoustics. A white bookcase in the living room rotates and leading to a hidden relaxation space with a soothing and monochromatic blue shade. The original pitched roof ceiling is retained and used in the master bedroom, located on the top floor.
- Wikipedia contributors (2022) Canal house, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Canal_house&oldid=1070043103.
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- Levy, N. (2022, January 26). i29 enlivens 17th-century canal house in Amsterdam with pops of colour. Dezeen. https://www.dezeen.com/2022/01/26/canal-house-interiors-amsterdam-i29/
- Wheeler, C. (n.d.). A Shadowy 17th-Century Canal House Shines After a Daring Renovation. Dwell. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.dwell.com/article/canal-house-i29-67c9db55
- Contents, W. A. (2022, July 25). i29 converts neglected 17th century canal house into a bright home with colorful interiors. World Architecture Community. https://worldarchitecture.org/article-links/enpcc/i29-converts-neglected-17th-century-canal-house-into-a-bright-home-with-colorful-interiors.html
- i29 Reinvents a Historic Canal House in Amsterdam. (2022, May 17). Interior Design. https://interiordesign.net/projects/i29-reinvents-a-historic-canal-house-in-amsterdam/