Freebooter | Biophilic House

Amsterdam, Netherlands

“We are part of nature in a deep and fundamental way, but in our modern lives, we’ve lost that connection. Our studio envisions home and city design that respects both inhabitants and the environment, reconnecting both in the process. Freebooter is a response to that; as I see biophilic design as the key to truly innovative design, balancing the technical aspects of environmentally conscious construction with the qualitative, lived-in experience of an organic and natural space.” Giacomo Garziano.

Site and inspiration

Freebooter is a small building located in the center of the island of Zeeburgereiland in Amsterdam, facing the Ij river, consisting of two duplexes of 120m2 each. Sensitive to Dutch history, customs and culture, the project took the Netherlands’s maritime past as its starting point. Freebooter thus becomes a modern “ship on land”, with many references to the wind, water, and sailing. On land that belonged to the water, a new ship set sail. The project’s name itself is a reference to the historical figure of the ‘Freebooter,’ private freelancers who assembled teams of sailors to explore the high seas. As well as acknowledging Dutch innovation and the nations’ pioneering nature, it was the spirit of the Freebooter that project architect, designer and GG-loop founder Giacomo Garziano sought to bring to the apartments, by bringing together a highly qualified team of craftsmen and carpenters to help him achieve his vision.

Architectural choices

The main materials of the building, like a ship’s hull, were limited to wood, steel, and glass. The floor plan of each apartment, referencing a ship’s layout, is organic and free-flowing, with step-inclines to spaces that are designed to envelop and ‘unfold’ as the inhabitant moves through it. One of the most important features of Freebooter is its use of light. GG-loop conducted a year-round study of light conditions to create the optimal shape and positioning of the structure’s louvers. This parametric facade enabled the optimal distribution of light while simultaneously allowing for an appropriate level of privacy. The project is made of a hybrid structure of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and steel, and was prefabricated offsite, allowing for an exceptionally fast built-time of three weeks for the four floors. Finishing the block took 6 months.

Unique properties

A triumph of biophilic, home-owner-centric design. Designed and developed by Amsterdam-based studio GG-loop, the project is an expression of the studio’s signature and philosophy of responding to the design brief with the experience and wellbeing of the end-user continuously in mind. Our first residential building in Amsterdam represents the quality standards of our future projects, based on high energy efficiency, high-quality interior spaces, and natural materials. The floorplan, flow of spaces and organic lines were also created with careful consideration of daily use and the typical tasks of dwellers – in short, so the home is a healthy and productive habitat for rest and living.

Production

Celebrating craftsmanship in contemporary design, this building of two tailor-made apartments harmonizes form and function on a meticulously designed plan. With a striking exterior, it has become a central point of the district; the block opens onto a compact interior plan revealing combinations of windows, wooden interiors, and high-quality finishes, with open organic curves that walk through comfortable living spaces, promoting a feeling of well-being and connection to nature.

Research

The project is the result of in-depth research in the field of timber construction: the hybrid system in CLT and steel structure was developed throughout the design process to optimize interior space and time of construction.

Study

In the initial studies, comparative tests were made between a concrete structure and the CLT structure. The latter has proven to be the most qualitative solution, thanks to its structural performance and its optimization of construction time, but also its carbon footprint since wood naturally stores CO2. The impact on the cost of an efficient CLT structure is less than 10%, compared to a concrete solution.

Energy and environment

The building’s energy consumption is close to 0. This result is the combination of 24 solar panels on the roof, high-performance wall insulation, and glass walls, coupled with low-temperature underfloor heating and a mechanical and natural ventilation system. 98% of the wood used is PEFC certified. With 122.5 m3 of wood used, the building stores nearly 80 tonnes of CO2, offsetting nearly 700,000 km of exhaust gas from a mid-range car and the energy consumption of 87 homes in one year.

For more information gg-loop.com/freebooter, freebooter.nl, and vimeo.com/325686890
Photography by Michael Sieber and Francisco Nogueira

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