Fall 2006 marked the beginning of a unique project in Amsterdam: the development of a residential block of 71 rent-controlled social housing units and 10 homes for purchase in the Zuidbuurt of the Steigereiland. Commisioned by Rochdale Projectontwikkeling for Stadgenoot, this block was established through a highly interactive process between the design team, the client and the future occupants. In fact, the two most remarkable elements of this project are its location and the extent to which the future inhabitants of the homes participated in different stages of the design.
Steigereiland is a piece of newly reclaimed land, a new neighborhood in the middle of Amsterdam. Long lines extending from different parts of the city define the structure of Steigereiland: creating a point of reference and connecting the IJburglaan, the power lines, and the bike-route running through the Noordbuurt over the Amsterdam Rijnkanaal into the center. These lines divide the island into communities of different characters and density. The Zuidbuurt is located south of the IJburglaan, on the leeward side of Steigereiland. Blok 128 is perfectly located on the island: prominently situated along the IJburglaan with a view of the water on the south side and looking out towards the Zuidbuurt Park on the eastern end. The courtyard accommodates parking and a communal garden.
As one of the urban renewal projects headlined by Stadgenoot, Blok 128 connects and unifies Parkstad (the Westelijke tuinsteden-the Western garden cities) and Waterstad (IJburg). 32 Households, which is nearly half the amount of planned rental homes, actively participated in the design of their future housing-blocks and personal units. The future residents were involved from the start: in choosing the architect and in attending a series of workshops-the results of which were integrated into the final proposal. Ultimately, 45 different types of homes were distilled from the choices and requests. Presented with the Preliminary Design, the tenants selected their homes and their location within the building. This discretion defined the arrangement of interior space as well as the evolution of the block’s façade. This truly unique project managed to create an instant sense of community, as people from different backgrounds collaborated openly through design.