Superlofts Houthaven

Amsterdam, Netherlands by Marc Koehler Architects


EMEA Regional Winner: Civic Buildings


Superlofts is constructed as an Open Building that offers a bare structure with 6m high floors in which homeowners can design and build their dream house. Located in a former harbour of Amsterdam, the building resides in an inspiring area that is currently transforming from an industrial to a residential neighbourhood. The radically flexible and resilient building can be adapted over time to shifting trends and changing behavior through a separation of support and fit out systems. The robust bare framework facilitates various interior designs making the building future proof for different occupants over time.

Consequently, it provides the opportunity to match lifestyle and budget for a variety of user groups and attitudes from ‘do it yourself’ to turn-key luxury. This method facilitates customizable and affordable housing in an urban environment, resulting in a mixed community. Superlofts is based on a Cooperative Development Model allowing homeowners to meet each other long before the start of the construction process, creating a strong bond among the community. This model puts homeowners, as co-creators, at the centre of the decision-making process giving them real influence over the ‘design & build’ process resulting in uniquely crafted spaces and cost- and energy-efficient buildings.

The Superlofts Houthavens goes beyond architecture. The power of sharing connects inhabitants, activating social well-being and providing a platform for exchanging ideas and inspiration. The flexibility of the open framework created the opportunity to add common spaces as a rooftop garden or shared facilities like charging points for electric vehicles at minimal cost, resulting in small vertical villages. It creates a sense of communal urban living while providing every homeowner with a unique chance to build a tailor-made space.

Superlofts is currently active with 8 projects in the Netherlands and exploring several sites abroad.

Why it won:

“They're setting up a little bit of a community and you get to design part of your own building. You can make it very individual, it’s absolutely great!” Lotta Nyman

“I think it's a great model. I think this is a nice way of living. Too often we see the ubiquitous white box which is all kind of done and fitted for you, fitted out to the lowest common denominator, which is sufficiently mundane. This actually gives people the opportunity to be creative and to form their own spaces. I think that it’s really exciting.” Andrew Waugh

“I think it is worth noting that this model is increasingly important. Around the world where housing affordability is a major issue, finding other ways to get people to build together is really important.” Cian Davis

“This is a fascinating typology straddling co-housing, custom build, custom fit-out living. These are not new, but I suspect rarely combined to this extent. The strategic approach to a loose fit core provides the perfect starting point for a variety of fit out approaches, but the USP here is encouraging residents to meet beforehand and develop the building as a group; therefore providing all of the potential of the social 'glue' required to make a sustainable communities from day one. Why isn't there one of these in every city block?!” Carl Vann

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