‘domūs houthaven’ by shift architecture urbanism is an innovative housing complex proposed to complete the newly developed neighborhood of houthaven, in amsterdam. forming the last cornerstone of a superblock that functions as a shield between the residential district and the industrial harbor, the project houses 235 apartments as well as an array of collective spaces, wrapped around an elevated communal garden. 

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all images courtesy of shift architecture urbanism



the project by shift architecture urbanism, and its volumetric composition in particular, is designed as a differentiated whole that seeks a balance between unity and variety. all the blocks have their own specific housing typology, constructive system, façade grid, and color. this facilitates identification by the inhabitants, and fits with the masterplan’s ambition to break down the superblock into a smaller ‘urban grain size’.

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in order to emphasize the unity between the parts, all blocks share the same architectural DNA. the choice of sturdy brick volumes with generous façade openings and ‘no-nonsense details’ refers to the industrial character of the harbor area. each volume has a brick grid façade that merges solidity and transparency in a way that optimizes views, light, and privacy for the specific apartment typology inside. the blocks are visually separated and physically connected by the communal circulation space that links all housing units and also connects an array of shared spaces and amenities.

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each inhabitant of domūs houthaven gets access to a large multifunctional garden room on the first floor and a pavilion with a roof terrace on the fifth floor. the garden room opens towards the collective green court and consists of a variety of interconnected spaces for working, playing, relaxing, washing, eating, and drinking. the roof pavilion, which is accessed by a pedestrian bridge in between two blocks, contains a large kitchen studio and a guestroom for all inhabitants to make use of. the diverse shared facilities and spaces stimulate social interactions between residents and make it possible to create more compact apartments.

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the different apartments offer, despite their relatively small area of between 40 and 60 m2, a high level of spaciousness. each apartment features its own type of XL-furniture that consists of a specific composition of modular elements for (open) kitchen, bathroom, storage and alcove bed. the composition and placement of this built in furniture element aims at maximizing the actual living space both in terms of size and flexibility of use. the diversity in apartment types and shared facilities offers space for a variety of lifestyles and create the conditions for a vivid community within the complex.

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project info:


name: domūs houthaven
architecture office: shift architecture urbanism
design team: oana rades, thijs van bijsterveldt, harm timmermans, paul voorbergen, marinda verschoor, philip de klerk, martina drys landscape design: flux landscape
structural engineer: ABT & wijcon
branding identity: …,staat amsterdam



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom