BIG & Barcode’s New Architectural Icon in Amsterdam

Architectural Gems: BIG & Barcode’s New Architectural Icon in Amsterdam

If I could describe any structure as the exact opposite of the austere eastern block of flats I grew up in, it would be this one. 

The Sluishuis residential development, although only recently unveiled, has already a sense of iconic architecture about it. Designed by Danish architecture studio BIG and Dutch studio Barcode Architects, it's situated in the IJburg district of Amsterdam on an artificial island overlooking the IJ Lake.

Sluishuis encompasses all that contemporary urban living accommodation should be today. It’s light filled, playful, inviting, attractive and above all, community orientated. 

The building itself has a distinctive shape, with angular blocks on two sides of the square, cantilevered to create a cut-out above the water and forming a gateway from the IJ Lake into its courtyard. The other two blocks step down to greet the city and create ample terraces for each apartment to enjoy the outdoors, the surrounding views and for neighbours to interact with one another. 

The residential program consists of 442 apartments. Rental and owner-occupied homes alternate throughout the building and provide space for various target groups, income levels, and age categories. And all apartments are accessible via the central courtyard.

What’s unique to the Sluishuis is that its four blocks enclose a courtyard that steps down to the water. On the ground floor, opening up to the courtyard, are a sailing school, a water sports centre and a restaurant with a large terrace.

This building not only offers fine living, it also focuses on social interaction. The public route across the roof, the children’s playground in the courtyard, the positioning of the balconies – it all prompts communication and encounters. It’s a joy. 

Here at Arckit we are fascinated by the building’s concept and its surrounding area and so during one of our recent Summer Camps with some enthusiastic budding architects, we recreated a quick working model of Sluishuis using Arckit. 

In the future we plan on making an even more impressive representation that showcases the distinctiveness and individuality that both Big and Barcode set out to achieve.