Old houseboats, placed on heavily polluted soil, have found new life in Amsterdam as a sustainable workspace for creative and social enterprises, De Ceuvel.
De Ceuvel, located in North Amsterdam on land that previously served as a shipyard, is Amsterdam’s first circular office park.
The site features retrofitted houseboats placed around a winding wooden walkway and surrounded by a landscape of soil-cleaning plants.
The creative concept for De Ceuvel proposed by Glasl, together with Smeele Architecture and Delva Landscape Architects, uses recycling as a central theme and includes the idea to bring in vegetation as a way to remove pollution, convert the houseboats into studios, and experiment with low-tech systems.
The land is temporarily secured through a 10-year lease from the Municipality of Amsterdam, after a group of initiators won a tender to turn the site into a regenerative urban oasis.
It is expected that after the 10-year period, the soil will be cleaner thanks to the high grass plants, specially selected for their soil cleansing potential, which through a process of phytoremidiation will clean it.
Known as a “Cleantech Playground”, De Ceuvel was developed to stimulate new ways of thinking about how to manage resources in communities.
Throughout De Ceuvel are showcases of technologies and techniques that operate on a small scale to close local cycles and bring the community back in touch with basic needs.
All of the boats are equipped with low-tech additions to make them work off the grid. Solar panels on the roofs provide part of De Ceuvel’s power needs while the rest is provided by a green energy company; an air-to-air heat pump extracts heat from the surroundings to heat up each boat; and dry composting toilets decrease water usage.
De Ceuvel features a sustainable café and restaurant, and enterprises including Metabolic, the Dutch Weed Burger, We the City, and Bootbank.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea