Housing Sphinx – Borneo Sporenburg
Amsterdam, Netherlands

During the 1990’s, many Dutch cities rapidly developed due to a government program to build 1 million houses by the year 2005. Amsterdam was no exception and within the context of the urban plan for Borneo Sporenburg Island in the harbour district, Erick van Egeraat designed a proposal for a residential project named Sphinx. WEST 8 landscape architects developed a high-density urban scheme for the area consisting of low-rise housing with private gardens and a ground floor access plan. Three large, sculptural blocks were planned to strategically establish a dialogue with the urban fabric  and a neighbouring existing development designed by German architect Kolhoff. Based on the urban requirements, the design of the Sphinx housing proposal is aimed at combining the unique quality of the site with the need for high differentiation in housing types. The block is tilted and cantilevers above the road, opening the green courtyard along the river IJ, thus simultaneously providing both shelter and great vistas across the water. Tilting the block required an increase in height of 30 cm per gridline which creates floors with variable heights. The glass facade wraps around the building like a skin and is equipped with different types of blinding. Depending on the weather conditions, the sculptural quality of the block is manipulated by its inhabitants – from a closed and somewhat gruff silhouette in bad weather, to a fully opened, alive and sweltering structure on hot summer days. The space above the cantilever is partially programmed for typical public functions, adding to a more diverse environment.

35,800 m2
Assigned by
Developer New Deal
Design in 1994