Schoonschip, a floating neighborhood in the Buiksloterham district of Amsterdam, has so far been a massive success, even though its first residents have barely gotten the chance to settle into their new boathouses. While it might be a little unexpected, the overwhelming demand for the project makes sense in light of the growing concern over climate change, which has the entire world rethinking the ways humans use energy and inhabit the planet.
There are only a few people who would want to live in a place that was susceptible to annual floods and storm surges, but considering the fact that the Earth is mostly water, it seems inevitable that others will soon embrace similar lifestyles. Amsterdam is essentially proving that people who love the water can in fact live with it — and do so sustainably, no less.
The first four of the floating neighborhood’s 46 households have already been set up in the Johan van Hasselt canal. When all is said and done in 2020, 105 people will call Schoonschip home. Think of it as a set of close-knit neighbors taking a trip together out to sea, only these neighbors live in houseboats docked alongside wharves that act as public spaces.
Other than houses, Schoonschip will also contain floating structures for food and rainwater collection, resulting in less overall food waste and a reduction in transportation costs when it comes to actually obtaining food. There will also be smaller floating structures on site for gardens and play areas. Each houseboat generates its own energy with solar panels and reuses 95 percent of the water that it uses.
Since the idea for Schoonschip first gained attention back in 2009, other cities have weighed the option of developing similar communities. In an effort to facilitate those developments, leaders of the flagship project have been documenting the construction of Schoonschip in an open source format.
There are already floating collections of houses in places like Vancouver and Lagos, but Schoonschip stands out for its commitment to sustainability — something that is definitely worth some consideration. We seem to be witnessing the old adage about real estate and location being traded in for features that promote a more sustainable lifestyle. As that continues, Schoonschip will be just one of many ultra-sustainable neighborhoods in Europe, and the entire world will be benefitting from the healthy conversation it sparked.
Anyone who is thinking of becoming a resident here will have to try elsewhere, because this floating neighborhood is full to the brim. The good news is that you will almost certainly get your chance some place else. Floating neighborhoods are inspiring, and they’re living proof that there always ways to rise above the adverse affects of a changing climate.