Community Urban district Ecological

Ecological and car-free residential neighbourhood in Amsterdam

An environmentally friendly and car-free residential area on the former site of the municipal drinking-water company (GWL) in Amsterdam. Owing to its strong cohesion and high density, the GWL site presents itself as a single, large-scale urban element in its surroundings. At the same time it is an open zone with residential blocks in the midst of greenery, an oasis of calm in the metropolitan chaos. KCAP designed the masterplan and 3 individual building blocks.

The design for the public space and greenery on the GWL site was conceived by West 8. The residential blocks were designed by Atelier Zeinstra van de Pol, Neutelings Riedijk architecten, DKV Arc...

  • Ecoplan Foundation
  • 1993 - 1998
  • Completed
  • 6 ha Urban plan for an ecological neighbourhood, 29.000 m2 for 600 residential units, integration of historical buildings and elaboration of 3 buildings
  • Architecture
  • Masterplan
  • Supervision
  • DKV Architecten
  • Meyer & Van Schooten
  • Neutelings Riedijk Architecten
  • Landscape: West 8
  • Zeinstra van der Pol
  • TOD Standard Silver (2014)
  • Mies van de Rohe Award, Nomination (1998 )
  • A+T Density I, nr. 19, 2002
  • Archis, nr. 5, 1996
  • Architecture in the Netherlands Yearbook, 1988 - 1999
  • Architectuur & Bouwen, nr. 3, 1998
  • Bauwelt, nr. 38, October 1999
  • De Architect, September 1998
  • Duurzaam Bouwen, nr. 4, August 1997
  • A group of residents from the adjoining Staatslieden neighbourhood were the first to table the idea for a low-traffic, environmentally friendly development on this site. The City Council adopted this idea and in 1992 it drafted a schedule of requirements for an ‘ecological neighbourhood’ with approximately 600 housing units. Five housing associations joined forces in the ECO-plan Amsterdam Foundation which subsequently acted as client for the plan. 

    The GWL site marks the boundary between the traditional housing blocks of the Staatslieden neighbourhood and the businesses and industry to the west. A few historic buildings and a water tower were retained, and these now form the eye-catching heart of the neighbourhood. 

  • The site has a density of 100 dwellings per hectare and includes communal housing, live/work dwellings, a community centre and other amenities. On its western and northern edges, the site is enclosed by a meandering residential block that climbs from four storeys in the south to nine in the north-east. 

  • This elongated block contains approximately 57 % of the dwellings and forms the boundary between the business activities and the residential area; it also protects the site from the westerly wind and from the noise of the Haarlemmerweg trunk road. Together, the 14 blocks of four to five storeys form a park-like setting, standing on green islands of private gardens surrounded by hedges.

  • A great deal of attention was paid to the access which is either via a street door or an upper-level corridor. All the blocks were realized in red brick and the paving in red clinkers. Since this red is complementary to the abundant greenery, it results in a powerful and coherent appearance that makes the GWL site stand out in the midst of its surroundings. The 19th-century Haarlemmerweg pumping station stands in the middle of the neighbourhood, and in its new incarnation as Cafe Amsterdam it is both the neighbourhood’s animated heart and a magnet for visitors from outside the area.