The Freebooter development in Amsterdam was designed using biophilic design principles, which is centered around connecting people with nature. Architecture practice GG-Loop used timber as the main material to express the idea of connection. Timber is used as external facade screens and internally it is used for walls, flooring, ceilings, kitchen and bathroom joinery, so the inhabitants have a visual and physical connection to nature.
Biophilic design is steadily becoming more widely known by homeowners and architects over recent years, with various certifying bodies including biophilic principles in their list of requirements (such as WELL certification). Do you know much about it? Let me know in the comments below.
The facade is clad in timber slats and the sun’s movement was tracked for an entire year so the slats could be angled perfectly to optimise sunlight yet provide privacy. Gentle curved openings provide views of the water and neighbourhood.
The merging of the indoors and outdoors is an important aspect of biophilic design, so floor to ceiling glazing is used extensively to provide views of the harbour nearby, and glazed sliding doors connect you immediately with the landscaped terrace. The design also includes organic curves in the facade, internal walls and design elements such as curved cutouts in the walls.
The building’s name and concept was inspired by the area’s history in shipbuilding and the materials selected were common in the industry – such as red cedar and pine. Red cedar was was a common choice because it has natural properties which stops it from rotting. The name Freebooter was used to acknowledge the historical ‘freebooters’ who were more commonly known as pirates and plunderers.
– Biophilic design – promotes a connection to nature
– Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) used for the building’s structure, along with steel
– Prefabricated offsite
– It took three weeks to install all four floors and six weeks in total to complete the whole project
– Cedar timber louvers on facade angled to allow optimal sunlight whilst maintaining privacy
– Extensive use of timber on interior and exterior. 98% of wood is certified PEFC
– Achieves close to zero energy consumption via 24 rooftop solar panels, high insulation values, high performance glass envelope, high performance shading system, low temperature floor heating, a mechanical and natural ventilation system
– With 122.5 m3 of wood used, the building stores nearly 80 tonnes of CO2, offsetting nearly 700,000 km of exhaust from a mid-range car and the energy consumption of 87 households in one year
Freebooter was born out of the main elements that characterize the area. It used to be a place where boats were constantly present. This is why I decided to use the elements related to navigation and interpret them according to my vision: the wooden structure typical of the sailing ships and traditional Dutch architecture inspired the construction technology and the feeling of the new interiors; the openness of the floor plan, the change in height according to the function of the room follows basic principle of ship engineering; the transparency of the facades, the balconies and terraces, create a feeling of standing on a ship’s deck, and still preserving privacy and comfort.
The fluidity of the water that carries the ship and the wind that blows its veils inspired both the floor plan, the interiors and the pattern of shading structure.
With this building I want to bring back the historic memories of the area and give the new inhabitants the feeling of belonging to it since centuries ago.
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.