What is Schoonschip?

In the Johan van Hasseltkanaal, a side canal from the IJ river in the north of Amsterdam,a new floating neighbourhood project arises, called ‘Schoonschip’. Literally, Schoonschip can be translated as clean ship.

The neighbourhood consists of homes for 46 households and a community center on 30 floating plots. The first of the water homes will be realized in 2018, and by 2020 the most sustainable floating neighbourhood in all of Europe, with in total 46 households and more than 100 inhabitants, will become a reality!

Schoonschip is being developed in Buiksloterham, a neighbourhood in Amsterdam-North where the robustness of old industry meets new sustainable building projects.


Schoonschip signed the manifest ‘Buiksloterham circulair’.


“Dream becomes reality”

Het Parool, 2013


Our Schoonschip Hub

It was our common dream to have a space within our sustainable floating neighborhood where we can get together and where people who don’t live at Schoonschip can still join us. A spot from [...]

First seven boats arrived

On saturday the 15th of decembre the first seven houses finally arrived. Shipped from Diemen, Utrecht and Zaandam, with tug-boats, they reached their final destination: the Johan van [...]

The pier is proceeding

The pier in the canal is proceeding really fast! Here you can see a timelapse movie from just an ordinary day in july! The time lapse was made by Isabel Nabuurs and she made it from a balcony of [...]

“Many people in Amsterdam dream of living on the water.”

Wall Street Journal, 14 maart 2013

The Plan

  • The water homes are well-insulated (EPC = maximal zero) and will not be connected to the natural gas network.
  • The heat will be generated by water pumps, which extract warmth from the canal water, and passive solar energy will be optimized.
  • Tap water will be heated by sun boilers in warm water pumps; all showers are equipped with installations that recycle the heat (WTW).
  • We are producing our own electricity with photovoltaic solar panels. Every household has a battery in which temporarily unneeded energy can be stored.
  • All water homes are connected to a communal smart grid. This smart grid makes it possible to trade energy efficiently amongst the households. 46 households will share only one connection to the national energy grid!
  • Gray water (i.e. washing machine) and black water (i.e. toilet) will be ‘flushed’ by a separate source of energy. Waternet will eventually include us in their pilot project, which delivers the toilet water to a bio-refinery, in order to ferment it and transform it into energy.
  • All homes will have a green roof covering at least one third of the roof’s surface.
  • Living together in Schoonschip terms means sharing resources – working together to inspire ourselves and others to search for a more sustainable lifestyle is one of the most important goals.
  • Schoonschip began as a foundation and was joined thereafter by a cooperative of all the households, run by individual inhabitants of the neighborhood. Working groups have been formed to research and implement themes such as mobility, communication, and building material selection. There is also a party commission organizing all events and meetings.
  • Together with the other projects in our neighborhood of Buiksloterham, we want to investigate all possibilities for creating an attractive living environment.
Open Source
  • Schoonschip sees itself as a leader and pioneer, experimenting with the newest sustainability techniques and solutions. In order to achieve this, we work together with innovative companies and share our experiences.
  • We are also glad to share our social and sustainability thoughts and experiences with others, in order to advance the knowledge and expertise in this area. We learn from others, and they learn from us.
  • By forming a shared habitat while leaving room for creative freedom to the inhabitants, we will create a very diverse and dynamic neighborhood.


We have very ambitious plans for the community once it is realized. To name a few examples:

Communal purchase of food, in order to minimalize refuse and transportation, and to support local organic farmers.

Floating gardens where we can grow our own herbs and relax while the children play.

Shared mobility. A hub for electrical cars, scooters and e-bikes. No emissions, no ownership, but mobility available whenever you may need it.

A community center for meetings, yoga classes, film screenings, and other activities.

A floating Film and Food Festival.

Excursions for school children and adults who are interested in living sustainably on water.


The floating homes of Schoonschip will be built between 2017 and 2019. The future inhabitants are busy planning and organizing.

Here you can read about the preparations that brought us to where we are now.



2008: Television producer Marjan de Blok interviews Pauline Westendorp, who at that time manages the autarkic ‘geWoonboot’, and becomes tremendously inspired by this form of self-sufficient life on the water. This sparks her idea to start a collective citizens’ initiative. That same evening, Thomas Sykora joins as a co-initiator. Marjan and Thomas write down their plans on an A4 page and soon manage to find like-minded enthusiasts for their plans.
Click here for a video with the initiators, which broadcaster VPRO made in 2012.



Foundation Schoonschip is granted a subsidy from the ‘Steering Group Experiments Public Housing’ and therewith involves consultancy ‘De Regie’ to help with getting sturdy plans on paper. With this plan, the foundation receives a loan from the Province of North Holland. Marjan: 'That night, after we had been working on the plan for a year and a half, we drank our first bottle of champagne.'



After a two year search for a suitable location, Schoonschip designates the Johan van Hasseltkanaal in Buiksloterham as the ideal location to pioneer and make dreams come true.



space&matter and Waterloft.nl launch a feasibility study at the location.
Phase 1 consists of designing a feasible plan that meets the needs and goals of the group. During this phase, the participants commit themselves by signing a manifesto, filling out a detailed questionnaire and paying a financial deposit.
In Phase 2, the plans from Phase 1 were made concrete and adjusted to the Johan van Hasseltkanaal and to the tender requirements as defined by the municipality of Amsterdam-Noord. Metabolic separately performs a feasibility study in the field of sustainability: a comprehensive solution for both Schoonschip and the neighboring cleantech playground ‘De Ceuvel’.

April 2013

April 2013

Schoonschip wins the audience award of the P-Nuts Awards, the annual award for local and renewable energy initiatives. The project also took the 2nd prize in the category Twynstra Gudde Nieuwe Nuts Award, and the 2nd prize in the category P-nuts Mooiste Idee Award (Most Beautiful Idea Award)!

August 2013

August 2013

Schoonschip submits its plan for the tender Buiksloterham. The key moment in the life history of the project. All feasibility studies are summarized in an eight-page document.

Okt 2013

Okt 2013

Schoonschip wins the tender of Amsterdam-Noord (Amsterdam-North)!
Maarten van Poelgeest, alderman of Amsterdam at the time: "Buiksloterham in North Amsterdam is developing into an area with much attention for sustainability and own initiative. The build-it-yourself initiative of Schoonschip fits in completely. In a few years, a unique Amsterdam neighborhood with floating homes will emerge under their leadership, built with an eye for people and the environment."
Program Manager Joost Reus of ‘InnovatieNetwerk’ (Innovation Network): "Schoonschip is an initiative that pulls out all the stops to close cycles to conserve energy and to produce renewable energy, heat and food. Schoonschip is going further in this than any other project in the field of sustainable construction and urban farming that I know."

May 2016

May 2016

GridFriends, a Dutch/German consortium including the centre for Maths and Information Science of the University of Amsterdam, the Fraunhofer Institut and the Dutch company Spectral Utilities, is awarded a European subsidy for a research project that sets new standards in smart grid technologies.
GridFriends wants to implement advanced smart grid platforms in Schoonschip and in a CO2-neutral housing complex in Cologne simultaneously, with which local cooperatives can maximize their self-sufficiency. Smart appliances and other up-to-date technology to support production, storage and mutual exchange of energy.

July 2016

July 2016

Applications for the building permit for the construction of the floating homes and collective pier submitted! The municipality will assess whether the projects comply with the urban plan and if all requirements are met in terms of fire safety and construction.

“The interest in water living is growing rather than diminishing. A good example: the sustainable floating homes in the Schoonschip neighborhood.”

Volkskrant, 7 oktober 2016

The inhabitants

Schoonschip will offer a place to live for 46 households and just over 100 residents, of all ages. Schoonschip managed to keep the group engaged and enthusiastic since 2009 and even to commit financially without the certainty of obtaining a lot, and as such a home.

Over the years, many group meetings have been organized in various inspiring places like the geWoonboot. These meetings were intended to provide information and form a close-knit group. Over the years, the composition of the group changed, but the interest continued to grow.


Registration unfortunately is no longer possible. There are enough interested souls to build a couple more neighborhoods, so it would be great if someone would copy our plans!

Plot 21, fltr: Theo, Ferrie, Paul and Thomas

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Thomas Sykora (filmmaker, photographer, sustainable enterpreneur):

I asked my mother and her friend Paul to join me, and then my uncle Theo. Partly due to financial reasons, but also with the thought in mind: If I would get children of my own, my family can take care of them every now and then. And on the other hand I can help them when things get tough for them.

Plot 17, fltr: Timo, Yvonne, Markus and Emil

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Markus Schmid (campaigner WISE):

We have chosen to build with straw. You literally put straw bales in the walls of your house. As far as we know this has never been done before on a floating house.  But it will defenitely not become a hobbit house. Our architect Hans Kuijpers was inspired by modern Japanese architecture.

Plot 30, fltr: Joshua, Matthijs, Miro, Milan and Nienke

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Matthijs Bourdrez (sustainable engineer):

I really look forward to the possibilities that living at Schoonschip will offer. I promise: living sustainably can give you a tremendous kick. Think of driving electric cars of taking a shower under a renewable shower. And all this comfort without a monthly energy bill!

Plot 22, fltr: Marjolein, Thijmen, Lucas and Sjoerd

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Marjolein Smeele (architect):

Being an architect I feel the urge to put a sustainable example. If I don’t do it, who else will?  Besides, in raising my children I want to demonstrate that acting sustainably is self-evident. We still have to think about it, hopefully they won’t.

Plot 10, fltr: Mijke, Linne, Froukje and Wouter

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Mijke de Kok (architect):

For us it is a dream to be able to live self supporting and to build our own sustainable house and surroundings. These two dreams come together in Schoonschip. It is truly special to be part of this enthusiastic group of  inhabitants who realise this project.

Plot 7, fltr: Lieve Sue, Mike and Marius

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Lieve Sue de Blok (producer) and Marius Gottlieb (creative, cook, presenter)

We both wanted to live on a houseboat for a long time, especially on a sustainable houseboat. Since initiator Marjan is Lieve’s sister, we know the project from the start. For us it is a dream to be a part of it.

Plot 24, fltr: Siti, Bart, Boet, Marijke and Martijn

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Bart Mol (scrum master)

We went through the whole process in good harmony, and had many sessions visiting suppliers of doors, stairs, windows. And some nice eateries. We also found each other business wise. Siti & Martijn for example helped us organising the symposium where we launched our first book, ‘Eet als een expert’.

Plot 9, fltr: Sascha, Olga and Zoja

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Olga Bednarz (artist)

Designing our house was a very long process. After a couple of years and about five different designs later, we have reached our goal: a simple yet functional space with some delightful twists. Trying to implement as many environment friendly materials whilst staying within our budget was often a difficult task, but we always found ways to make it work. We are now busy choosing the right interior materials. And we really look forward to the moment we can wrap our house with plants, inside and out.

Plot 8, fltr: Corinne and Petr

(Photo: Manon van der Zwaal)

Corinne van Egeraat (documentary filmmaker)

It has always been Petr’s dream to live on the water – he is a water animal, always doing a lot of watersports of different kinds. He is happiest on the water. When he moved to Amsterdam, I told him his dream of living on a houseboat was a bit of a tourist-cliché – ordinary houseboats are not really practical live in, have too low ceilings for someone as tall as him, are expensive and too small, are energy inefficient: basically for tourists. Then Schoonschip came along; we applied, and were so lucky to be accepted.  We can’t believe our good luck.

Guided tours

Schoonschip offers guided tours. We are very proud of our project. We have worked very hard for years, and we are happy to share our knowledge and experiences!


Besser geht immer

In this German report Astrid Frohloff is looking for new concepts for attractive and affordable housing. She also visited Schoonschip and spoke [...]

Living on the water

The German tv programme Nordsee Report highlights what it’s like to live on the water, in the Netherlands and in Germany. Including an [...]

Schoonschip at EenVandaag

Monday the 7th of january 2019 EenVandaag, a national tv programme, made an item on Schoonschip. It contains interviews with the inhabitants [...]


3rd of augustus 2017 Read an interview with Marjan de Blok, one of the initiators of Schoonschip in the Belgian medium Knack: “Living on the [...]


5th of may 2017 Read an interview with Marjan de Blok, one of the initiators of Schoonschip. According to Marjan there are many prejudices about [...]


1st of march 2017 Read an interview in Metro with Wouter Valkenier, the architect who designed succesful Amsterdam restaurants and cafés like [...]


November 2016 The community of Nudge consists of more than 50.000 ‘Nudgers’ and realises bottom up initiatives that support a positive and [...]

Het Parool

  Octobre 2013 ‘Floating environmental neighborhood will be realised’. Article in the Amsterdam newspaper het Parool, that appeared when we [...]

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