LEVS De Binnenbocht3 min

Urban development on the Cruquius Island

Harbour triplets

Urban development on the Cruquius Island, Amsterdam

From an original initiative to transform a single classical warehouse, grew an ambitious plan for the development of the wider Cruquius Island in Amsterdam. LEVS made the design for a coherent set of three residential buildings along the inner waterfront. Our harbour triplets create a continuous strip characterized by water, history and city life. Their architectural differences reflect the site’s mixed character. Yet, they lay the groundwork for a new type of community to develop here.

From pioneering to developing

Once a flourishing harbour for the oil-refinery and spice-trade, by 2006 nearly everything had disappeared from the Cruquius Island. The old harbour had made way for the heavy industry of concrete-, steel- and waste production and management in the Amsterdam region. Such was the situation in 2008 when we moved into our new office at the tip of the Cuquius island, surrounded by water, wind and industrial bustle.

During the crisis, that started around the same time, investors like Amvest bought up large sections of the vacated Cruquius Island for future development of residential and commercial buildings. Empty buildings would soon be populated by start-ups and other creatives, driving up interest the area. Having become real locals, we developed an interest in the cultural history of the site and its potential for the future. We decided to take the initiative and approached Amvest with a plan for the restoration and transformation of one of the last remaining classical warehouses, previously part of waste management company Remepa. From this grew the idea to also develop the complex lots directly next to the warehouse. Fast forward a few years and we have become active partners in developing this central strip along the waterfront.

Creating coherence in a complex plot

The unusual triangular shape of the plot and the warehouse’s specific position proved challenging. A central idea from the beginning was to design a coherent set of three different buildings. After many volume-studies and bird’s eye view analyses of the future of this area, we have come to a supple arrangement of the plan. The result is a design with urban, special and architectural coherence between the diverse typologies of the triplets and with the bordering plots.

Harbour triplets

The smallest of the three, 2Peer, provides young residents the option of home-sharing. They look out over the green and lively heart of the island. In character, 2Peer speaks the same visual language as its neighbours across the street: dark-toned industrial. De Loods, the transformed warehouse, now contains eight spectacular loft apartments with indoor parking. A waterfront pedestrian zone connects De Loods to its much larger residential sibling, the white, maritime complex of De Bocht. Spanning across a ground floor parking, this angular volume climbs up fifteen floors, containing almost as many floorplans across the apartments. A proud rock in the sun, overlooking the island and the water. From social housing to penthouses and everything in between. The three siblings differ to the extent that the entire Cruquius Island is varied, but are united in orientation and attitude towards the open water and the lively centre.

Polluted soil as opportunity

Polluted soils made quick work of our dreams about underground parking and even transformation of the warehouse. We had to reinvent our strategy. One of the first questions we asked ourselves was: why is preservation of the warehouse necessary? Our reflection only confirmed our believe that it is a key reference to the area’s history. Maintaining that character has become a key to the final design: a reconstruction that follows the recognizable contours of the warehouse and integrates original constructive elements such as steel roof beams, light strips in the ridge and brick façades. Residents now enter a central ground floor parking through a large central gate, reminiscent of warehouse activities of times past.

Underground parking unfortunately was not an option for the adjacent building De Bocht either. The desire to create car-free public spaces clashed with the reality of the site, and required some ingenuity. The true value of our final design lies in its realistic idealism in dealing with challenges such as these. Parking spaces for over 120 apartments now takes place in the heart of the building. They are surrounded by waterfront apartments, commercial spaces, social housing apartments overlooking a raised inner courtyard and a terraced tower that gradually climbs up to a high-point on the fifteenth floor. This white volume towers over the island and the water like a standing rock in the sun, a feature that all residents with a terrace will appreciate.

Complex layering in the façade

De Bocht houses many different functions and housing typologies. This type of complex layering proved a task par excellence for BIM. In turn, that paved the way for the production of completely prefabricated elements. Some one thousand façade elements have been factory produced and installed on-site. Over half of those contain everything from cement, brickwork and isolation to window frames, glass and ventilation grills. The other half consists of constrictive beams, balcony elements and simple façade elements. It has made it possible to do all the façade work without any scaffolding. This way of working is highly efficient, but only possible when a building has been detailed fully and in great detail. We managed to achieve this level of detail in BIM through close collaboration with our partners and integral communication on the modelling process. As BIM coordinator, we could make it possible for all parties to work together towards a successful result.

Enabling communities

People want space and nature around them, but also the feeling of being are part of a city. They love characteristic, historical sites of contemporary quality. Merely emphasizing historical character in a building does not guarantee quality of life. What it does contribute is sense of belonging, which is why we have thought about the preconditions for the development of a local community. Actively considering different target audiences in the design is one of those. 2 peer presents a novel housing concept. Two persons share a common kitchen and relatively small living room. The bedrooms are very large and have their own dedicated bathrooms. This gives residents privacy, without missing out on social encounters in the house. Encounters are also enabled in the direct environment of the plan. The open spaces between the buildings and their orientation towards the water create room for social activities outside. The materiality of the built environment, its industrial character and the many walkways all contribute to a sense of comfort by the water. A connection is forged between the history of the site and its new urban diversity. These harbour triplets lay the groundwork for a vibrant new community.

Our collaboration with Amvest on the urban development of the Cruquius Island has lead us also to work on the transformation of an old wine terminal into a mixed-use ensemble with restaurant The Harbour Club.


Adriaan Mout, Jurriaan van Stigt, Marianne Loof
Surya Steijlen, Marco Rats, Tibor Kis, Lenka Rezbarikova, Ingeborg van Lent, Eerde van Leeuwen, Daan Goedhart, Dennis Meijerink
26,000 m² with 42 rental and 49 owner-occupied apartments, 19 social rental/owner-occupied apartments, 11 single family town houses, 700 m² commercial space, 8 lofts, 24 apartments to share, 3 internal car parkings
2015 –
Public space design
Buro Lubbers
Artist impressions
Zes X Zes, Moare