No. 505 . 26 January 2011 

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The Stuurmankade 266 to 304 townhouses in Amsterdam, by KCAP, combining outdoor rooms and daylighting in a compact urban waterfront package, are a deft modern rendering of the ancient narrow house typology. Photo: Ger van de Vlugt

Nice and Narrow

by Avi Friedman

The Borneo Sporenburg development lies in one of Amsterdam's former working harbors. The city and West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture planned an urban development with a density of 40 dwellings per acre (100 dwellings per hectare).

The area was, therefore, subdivided into strips, and the block on which the Stuurmankade 266 to 304 townhouse project by KCAP was constructed is part of several elongated tracts of land.

The block is 79 feet (24 meters) deep and unites the two extreme edges of the site. One side looks out across the water, while the other is part of an intimate, urban texture of narrow streets. The back-to-back dwellings are built above an internal street — a parking solution that enabled use of the ground-floor level for residential functions, which resulted in lively neighbor relations. The units also have patios and roof terraces, which are used as private outdoor spaces.

Dwellings on the north side are oriented toward the water. With two-story glazed lower facades, they take advantage of the natural light and view. The south-facing dwellings are oriented toward the inner street. Their elevations have a more closed design to ensure privacy. They also have a roof terrace facing an alleyway, which accounts for the staggered frontage.   >>>

This article is excerpted from Narrow Houses by Avi Friedman, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.




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