Schoonschip is a floating community in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, containing 46 households and a collective house. It was developed by residents and designed by twenty-two architectural studios. The plan includes single and double houses all connected by a wooden jetty. Collective sustainable innovations include a smart grid pilot with communicating batteries and a sanitation pilot with vacuum toilets. All piping of these electric energy and wastewater pilots runs under the jetty.

Studio Names: KUUB and NOVAMBER
Design Team: Pascal Hielckert and Amber Beernink
Area: The Netherlands
Year: 2020
Location: Johan van Hasseltkade, Amsterdam-North
Contractor: Willem Beverloo
Consultants: Tree Delft, Bartels & Vedder, Spectral
Photography Credits: Exterior: Isabel Nabuurs
Interior: KUUB

Schoonschip Plot 12 by KUUB and NOVAMBER - Sheet9
©Isabel Nabuurs

The neighbourhood shares energy and buffers peak loads of the urban electricity network. The vacuum system facilitates reclaim of nutrients in the wastewater and the production of biogas.

Climate and energy

Due to triple glazing, abundant insulation and green roofs, only a few months a year the floor heating is needed. In summer, both houses have abundant cross-ventilation and sunscreens options, but the coolest area remains the basement, half under water level, surrounded by the concrete building mass. The interior lime plastered wood fibre panels facilitate passive moist management.

Schoonschip Plot 12 by KUUB and NOVAMBER - Sheet4

Heating and cooling energy comes from a number of sources. The thermal energy of the canal water is harvested via water tubes in the bottom of the concrete case and a heat pump. On top of the green roof solar collectors are installed, along with the solar panels that energize the all-electric water villas.

Ventilation is CO2 directed, retrieves heat and filters particulate matter. Heat energy in the shower water is recycled.

Schoonschip Plot 12 by KUUB and NOVAMBER - Sheet5

Plot 12 – The Braboot

The ‘Braboot’ combines two completely different water villas in one architectural volume. Both houses are equal in size and have an optimal orientation within the given context.

The building volume is playful and varies in silhouette. It is hard to distinguish the two housing volumes inside. But it is easy to note that the outdoor spaces are an integral part of the design. They are recessed smooth grey wooden cladded zones caged or protected within the rhythmic dark brown cladding.

Pre-fabricating walls and floors saved a lot of building time.

Spatial composition

The two house volumes are intertwined like a 3D puzzle forming one compact volume. Inside one house you hardly notice that there are direct neighbours.

Gradually the space opens up and diagonal view lines connect the more intimate spaces. Both house volumes are spread over three floors. Both living floors are L-shaped. Spatial volumes are intertwined or separable when desired. Same level terraces make outdoor living easy.

Schoonschip Plot 12 by KUUB and NOVAMBER - Sheet7

Water and biotope

The vacuum toilet needs just 1 lt of water per use. Rainwater is collected for gardening. Nesting and food for insects, birds and bats is facilitated with swift openings and bat panels behind the cladding, green roofs, facade climbers, and bio-based floating gardens.


Main hull materials

  • Concrete – foundation, basement separation wall
  • Pine timber frame construction with wood fiber insulation – walls and floors
  • Roasted Limba exterior cladding
  • Compiled Spruce-aluminium window frames with triple glazing
  • Pine plywood underlayment on walls and floors
  • Cement-bonded board enfolding floor heating tubes


KUUB is an architectural firm that stands out for extensive detailing, resourcefulness and realistic solutions. They develop retail concepts, furniture systems and products and design residential areas, office spaces, apartments, hotel suites, gyms and clubs.

Architectural identity is the focus in their approach: the translation of identity to form, colour and material. This could be the identity of a brand, but also the translation of corporate identity or personal identity to a timeless and recognizable spatial image.


Amber makes ‘outside including architecture’ using design, art and ecology. Any project grows from the qualities and needs of the local and global context and its users, as well as the transformative behaviour of the used materials. Working on a vertical greenhouse, private houses and floating biotopes is like pushing the boundaries of passive climate control, spatial playfulness and the application of bio-based materials.

As a design research spin-off NOVAMBER developed ‘DNA’, a magnetic team-game to explore and design system innovation.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.