Amphibious Living

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The idea of starting to live amphibiously arose from the project Kunst van het Vestigen (the Art of Settlement), which Hans Venhuizen organized in Gouda in 1998. During research into possible future settlement in Gouda, it seemed that the still-available land in the Province of South Holland was being readied for construction despite the high costs and considerable effort required because of marshiness and subsidence. The spraying of layers of sand and shoring up the foundations of houses were means to try to impose our will on the landscape and the water. Amphibious Living is an appeal for the abandonment of this compulsive control of water, for allowing free rein to climatic influences, tides and seasons in the residential environment, as well as a plea for a new conceptualization of living. Amphibious Living consisted of two phases: an ideas competition and the implementation of the best entries at three actual locations in South Holland.

Animation Amphibious Living (only in Dutch) of the results of the implementationteam in Barendrecht

is housing that is optimally adjusted to the conditions in every way, not by forcing these conditions, but precisely by responding as much as possible to the special qualities of these conditions.
The idea of amphibious living as a response to this arose some two years ago in Gouda during the project 'The Art of Settlement' that Venhuizen organised there. The Amphibious Living Foundation that emerged from that project initiated a competition which eventually coincided perfectly with the South Holland project 'The Art of Creating Water' carried out by Kunstgebouw.

A park on foundations In the last few decades there was every reason to avoid marshy locations when it came to building. The more stable and sandy ground was built on first.
In marshy areas it is usual to spray a thick layer of sand long before building work starts, in order to stabilise the unstable soil as much as possible. This immediately eradicates all of the qualities of the existing landscape. After a couple of years the buildings are constructed on piles, the infrastructure is created, and a landscape architect is invited to devise a plan for the public space that is based as much as possible on the original landscape. The sinking of the ground level starts as soon as the sand has been sprayed. An additional metre of soil is required within five years, and the thicker the layer of sand grows over the years, the faster the buildings subside.

Building on piles is an attempt to provide a sense of security, an idea that the settlement is firmly anchored. The same technique is used for drainage systems, although it is very expensive. Constructing foundations for roads, car parks, gardens and whole parks is not only an expensive business, but it is above all a ridiculous one. After all, what security does it offer if your house remains at the same level while the whole environment subsides beneath it?

The Fifth Wheel submission Krijn Giezen

Amphibious dynamics Besides the enormous building programme, the fact that good land has run out, and the growing interest in nature, the environment and the qualities of the landscape, another theme plays an important part as well: the redefinition of the culture of settlement. The technology of spraying sand and driving piles which is thought to be so solid is growing more and more forced, precisely when it is flexibility that is called for.
The technology for amphibious living is already there. In many places streets and even gardens are constructed on polystyrene foam and floating houses are launched. But these techniques are still mainly used for traditional forms of housing. Amphibious living combines all these techniques to produce a result that is more than the sum of its parts.

Competition and implementation The project consisted of two parts; a competion and the elaboration of ideas. Amphibious proposals were submitted in three categories at every level of urban development - from complete delta plans to allotment cottages. The first two categories were open to professionals, while the third welcomed submissions from everyone who was interested in the competition, irrespective of training or skill.

In the second part, the most suitable ideas to emerge from the competition were elaborated for various locations in South Holland. Generally speaking, designers are used to starting from a specific location and the way in which the qualities of that location are related to one another in a unique way. This often leads to designs that are extremely suitable for the location for which they were designed, but from which it is not easy to distil the creative ideas that might work well in other locations too. The Amphibious Living project reverses this situation: the competition provides a range of opportunities for original ways of tackling spatial planning in marshy conditions. The most suitable solutions are then applied to a number of locations. The proposals are then adapted to the specific qualities of these locations.

Wetland (only in Dutch) prizewinner MG architecten

Three teams have drawn up plan proposals from the results of the competition. Each team consisted of a core of two persons, an implementation manager, an expert in the field of urban development, and a concept manager, someone who is able to preserve the qualities of a proposal during the process of converting the idea into a plan. These managers do not act as designers themselves, but they optimise the drawing up and implementation of the plan, they act as intermediary, as the diplomats of the optimal plan. The core team is like a simulation of the project developer, but this project developer is not out for material gain but for an optimal 'settlement culture' within practical limits.
Finally, on every location these plan proposals are put to a forum of residents in the different local authorities, urban planners, administrators, water specialists and project developers.

This project has brought to light the technological, ecological and design aspects of, and the legal and political prior conditions for amphibious living. But above all amphibious living has proved to be an attitude. It has become a plea to abandon the compulsive control of the water through fixed water levels and high dykes, a plea to allow climatic influences, tides and seasons. Amphibious living is a plea for the ultimate control of a constantly changing landscape, not by imposing our will on the landscape, but by responding as far as possible to the qualities of a dynamic relation between land and water, an amphibious dynamics.

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Amphibious Living was assigned by
Kunstgebouw, Foundation of Arts and Culture South Holland & Foundation Amphibious Living (2000)

Concept Management
Bureau Venhuizen, Hans Venhuizen, Maureen Timmermans, Irmin Eggens, Caroline Wolf, Margot Lieftinck

With the cooperation of Implementation teams
- Barendrecht managed by: Lucas Verweij and Dennis Moet; with the cooperation of: MG Architecten (Rotterdam NL), Future Lifestyle Innovators (London E), Martijn Schoots (Gouda NL) Ed Van Velzen La Feber Bonneur Architecten (Schiedam NL)
- IJsselmonde managed by: Juliette van der Meijden and Henk de Vroom; with the cooperation of: Toshikazu Ishida (Kyushu JP) Krijn Giezen (F) Oscar Rommens and Joris van Reusel (Antwerpen B) en Mauricio Corbalan en Gustavo Dieguez (Buenos Aires Arg)
- Gouda managed by: Mark Mantingh, Mark van Steenbergen and Michiel Parqui; with the cooperation of: Dennis Martens en Cees-Jan de Rooi (Arnhem NL) Joop Schaghen (Bureau Oranjewoud, Capelle a/d IJssel NL) and Sander van Veen (Amsterdam NL)
- Kunstgebouw: Connie Eggink, Klaas Hoekstra, Karel Winterink, Sonja Ammerlaan, Esther van Winden, Maria Neele, Pieta Koopman
- Foundation Amphibious Living: Sjaak de Keijzer, Wim de Bruijne, Hans Venhuizen

Communication Advice
Henze Pegman

Indira van ’t Klooster

Maintenance website
Archined, Rotterdam

Research into the History of Amphibious Living

MDL architecten, Paul Meurs

Dhr. H. Heemrood, National DuBo Centre, Dhr. J. Warners, Alderman Culture and Sustainability Municipality Gouda, Dhr. H. Lenderink, Ex Alderman Spatial Planning Municipality Gouda, Paul Berends, Ministry of Transport, Public Works andWater Management , Sim Vissers, Castle Groeneveld, Harry Harsema, Graphic Studio Wageningen

The Programme of the Competition has been scrutinized by
Foundation Design Competitions, Architecture Local

Computer Presentation

Exhibition Design
ZEE in cooperation with Parthesius Vormgeving

Model Making
Werkplaats Vincent de Rijk

Amphibious Living is a publication of NAi Publishers,
Mauritsweg 23, 3012 JR Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
ISBN 90-5662-180-7 and Kunstgebouw,
Foundation of Arts and Culture South Holland

Graphic design
Martijn Engelbregt, Herman van Bostelen

Olof Koekebakker, Marc Neelen, Hermien Hamhuis, Gideon Boie

Photography models
Anne Bousema

With thanks to
Dhr. T. Bijshuizen (Waterschap IJsselmonde), Stefan Werrer, Margit Schuster, Petra Koenen

Amphibious Living is made possible by
financial support of the Province South Holland, the Electricity Company South Holland (main sponsor) and the Foundation Prins Bernhard Cultuur- fonds South Holland (main subsidizer).

To Amphibious Living contributed
the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment and the Netherlands Architecture Fund (project subsidizers) and Johan Matser Project Development and Van Wijnen West (donors).