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About this project

Designed and developed by Amsterdam-based studio GG-loop, Freebooter is a small development on the man-made island of Zeeburgeriland in central Amsterdam.

The timber-louvered building houses two split-level apartments overlooking the Ij river, each designed to encourage fluid, open-plan living and a healthy lifestyle.

Biophilic design

Freebooter was designed with biophilic principles at its core, aiming to reconnect city inhabitants with the environment to improve the lives of occupants.

The architect undertook year-round sun-studies to create the parametric shape and positioning of the building’s slatted cedar louvers, allowing optimal sunlight to reach into the building while also maintaining privacy for the homeowners.

The compact interiors incorporate open organic curves and comfortable living spaces, which together with the timber-lined interiors and natural light, promote a feeling of well-being and connection to nature. The floorplan, flow of spaces and organic lines were also created with careful consideration to daily use, creating a healthy and productive habitat for rest and living.


The striking exterior of the building. Images credit: Michael Sieber; source: v2com

The striking exterior of the building. Images credit: Michael Sieber; source: v2com

Maritime inspiration

The building takes many cues from Dutch maritime history for its design and technical inspiration. Zeeburgeriland was previously the main thoroughfare for ships docking in Amsterdam and the name ‘Freebooter’ refers to historical figures who took freelance sailors to the high seas in search of new lands.

The building’s primary materials, like a ship’s hull, are limited to wood, steel and glass; and the building itself incorporates many references to the wind, water and sailing. The wooden slatted facade brings to mind the movement of the water rippling in the wind.

Internally, the free-flowing layout includes ladder-like stairways between spaces and cut-outs in pine-clad walls that give the impression of a ship’s cabin.

Use of Timber

A hybrid structure of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and steel, the development was entirely prefabricated offsite to optimise interior space and minimise onsite construction time. The building was constructed in just three weeks, with a further six months spent completing the block.

Western red cedar, pine and steel are the key materials used throughout each apartment. Construction of the key internal elements required strong craftsmanship and timberwork, in addition to solid structural expertise.

Why is it a Low-Carbon Case Study?

Before opting for CLT, comparative tests were made between a concrete and CLT structure. CLT was chosen for its structural performance, short construction time and low carbon footprint. The CO2 impact was calculated to be less than 10% of an equivalent concrete solution.

Moreover, the building’s energy consumption is close to zero. This was achieved through a 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 in the building 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.


Frame awards 2020 – Large Apartment of the Year – Amsterdam (NL) – Frame magazine (winner)

Archilovers – Best of the Year 2019 – Bari (IT) – Archilovers (winner)

WAF awards 2019 – Amsterdam Prize – Amsterdam (NL) – World Architecture Festival (winner)

Best of the Year 2019 – Environmental Impact – New York City (US) – Interior Design Magazine (winner)

AMP 2019 – Green architecture – Los Angeles (US) – Architecture MasterPrize (winner)

CODA awards 2019 – Residential – Madison (US) – Codaworx (winner)

A’Design awards 2019 – Sustainable and Green Design – Como (IT) – A’Design (winner)

DNA Paris awards 2019 – Green Architecture – Paris (FR) – DNA Paris (winner)