Floating home by +31 Architects is moored on an Amsterdam river


Half of this floating house by +31 Architects is submerged below the waterline of Amsterdam's river Amstel, while the other opens out to a buoyant terrace (+ slideshow).

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

Designed by Amsterdam studio +31 Architects, Watervilla Weesperzijde is among the growing number of houseboats lining the banks of the Netherlands' waterways. The floating villa is located on the river Amstel, just downstream of an earlier houseboat by the firm Watervilla de Omval.

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

Based on a ship, the lower portion of the house is submerged in the river while the upper storey sits level with the water's surface. The floating design is intended to help the residents "enjoy every day a feeling of being on holiday."

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

Sliding glass doors added to the lounge and kitchen maximise views of the river. They also provide access to a floating terrace, which is moored alongside the villa and spans the length of the living space.

"The result is a modern watervilla which is characterised on the waterside by a film frame-like glass facade," said the architects.

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

The pale grey flooring of the living area extends onto the terrace, helping to visually merge the two spaces. Three automated sun awnings are integrated into the edge of the building's flat roof and can be retracted at the press of a button.

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

"The floor is extended from the inside to the outside not only having the same colour but also the same height," said the studio. "The almost absence of a physical barrier between the living area and the terrace invites people to take a refreshing dive into the river Amstel."

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

Floating steps descend into the windowless basement, where a pair of bedrooms and bathrooms and a small lounge are located. The stairwell is flanked by glass balustrades that help to bring light down to the lower level, which is largely open plan.

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

The house is connected to the quay by a wooden bridge, which flexes as the residence rises and falls with the tide.

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

The quay-facing side of the structure is sealed with perforated aluminium sheeting that displays the house's number. The perforations are illuminated at night by a panel of blue LEDs but remain dim during daylight hours.

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

"During the day the holes are dark dots whilst in the dark the holes are lit by a large LED strip that is placed behind the facade," explained the studio. "In the evening the Watervilla transforms itself into a Star Wars-like creation."

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

Floating architecture is growing in popularity in the Netherlands, where much of the landmass lies beneath sea level as climate change causes the water level of the nation's waterways to rise.

+ 31 Architects claims that floating architecture is a sustainable solution to the issue, allowing new houses to be built on existing waterways and the basis created by dams and dykes.

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

"When needed the floating system can be moved elsewhere at short notice without leaving any scar to the environment," said the firm. "Instead a new house can be placed in to the old situation which makes it the most sustainable and durable way to build."

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam

Similar typologies have been proposed by UK firms as a means to deal with flood-stricken areas of the nation and as a solution to London's housing shortage.

Designers of the UK's first amphibious house, Baca Architects, recently developed a buoyant starter home for an NLA competition seeking ideas to address the capital's housing crisis, while at the beginning of 2015 London architect Carl Turner unveiled a prefabricated house designed to float on floodwater.

Photography is by Ewout Huibers.

Project credits:

Architect: +31 Architects
Project team: Jasper Suasso de Lima de Prado and Jorrit Houwert
Building contractor: Post Arkenbouw, Marknesse
Cabinets: Forsa meubels
Aluminium cladding: Kamplacon
Aluminium windows: Sapa

Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam
Floorplans – click for larger image
Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam
Sections – click for larger image
Watervilla Weesperzijde by +31 Architects, Amsterdam
Elevations – click for larger image
  • Thomas De Longeaux

    This project is so poor. You should search in Paris for some new floating architecture like Flow, Rosa Bonheur, Barge du Crous de Paris, etc.

    • Sim

      I agree. There is very little depth or cleverness or ingenuity in this design. It’s just a floating white box really.

      • Guest

        What more do you need? The majority never live in anything even a fraction as nice.

        • Sim

          I wouldn’t call it “nice”. I find it pretty harsh to be honest. Also, I can predict that the inhabitants will be at a loss living there. No room for storing anything. No room for coats, shoes, mail, bags etc.

          When you come home there’s going to be an incredible mess next to the entrance. To anticipate that kind of thing is also the job of a good designer, not just making a nice “box” that looks pretty in pictures.

          • Hey! There’s that ladder in the bedroom.

          • This place has a lot more storage space than any similarly sized home in Amsterdam I’ve seen!

  • Concerned Citizen

    It appears that privacy is not a concern.

    • jl

      Dutch houses very often have wide windows open that anyone can look into from the street. This isn’t really different.

      • Concerned Citizen

        The point was made to the fact that all the beds are visible from the stairway.

        • Looking at the plans, I see only one bed visible from the stairs.

  • Erik

    You’d have to always remember to keep the curtains closed! Or just embrace living in a gold-fish bowl and let the world see you moments before or after a shower.

    • Sim

      The shower is in the basement.

    • fred

      More than this, Dutch people most of the time don’t have curtains on almost any habitation. It concerns the fact that they are protestant, and it shows that they do same as the others. It’s opposite to the latin way of living.