Clusters for creative industries are nothing special these days, but in the north of Amsterdam something interesting is going on with De Ceuvel, a self-sustaining temporary creative village on a polluted brownfield that consists of sixteen houseboats-turned-offices.
The polluted land, a former shipyard, was secured for a ten-year lease from the City of Amsterdam after a collective of designers and architects, including the offices Space & Matter and Metabolic, won a competition with their plan to transform the site into a multi-functional regenerative urban oasis. The strong focus on re-use of land and materials makes it one of the most ground-breaking urban sustainability experiments in Europe.
The imaginatively retro-fitted houseboats that make up the creative quarter are all placed around a winding bamboo walkway and the surrounding landscape consists of plants that clean the soil. Most of the work was, and still is, done by the tenants who are relatively free to transform the boats into their own perfect work environment. It very much feels like a playground for grown-ups — a sustainable playground, that is! The boats will be able to leave the site after ten years without much of a trace, leaving the land more valuable, biodiverse, and cleaner from pollutants.
Apart from the houseboats, the site also includes a public restaurant made from 150-years old bollards. The roof of the restaurant will become a garden that produces ingredients that make up the super-local and always vegetarian menu. To top it all off, there are plans to transform the old dock, only a few meters in the adjacent water, into a boat & breakfast. Not only will this place provide a unique place to spend the night, it also boasts the option to link your own boat and rent it out Airbnb-style. A playground is never truly finished!