From the nature park De Vrije Geer in Sloten there is a good view of twelve unusual semi-detached houses. Each pair of dwellings sits on the embankment of Kerksloot and looks out, with their large windows, over De Vrije Geer, which is also known as ‘Sloten meadow’. These dwellings, designed by the architectural office Soeters Van Eldonk, were built in 1995 and grab the eye with their coarse profiled aluminium elevations, pastel-coloured stucco and oblique lines. They contrast sharply with the housing of the post-war period of reconstruction in Slotervaart and other neighbouring districts.
The water dwellings form part of the urban design scheme for a wedge-shaped development on the western edge of Nieuw Sloten. The scheme, which was also designed by Soeters Van Eldonk, is clearly a reaction to both the modernist row housing that characterizes the surrounding garden suburbs and the rigid urban structure of the rest of Nieuw Sloten. The development stands out with its winding streets, unusual choice of materials and postmodern forms such as the ‘lace’ roofs on Blankenbergestraat. The freestanding water dwellings create a ‘soft’ transition between the city on one side and the green periphery and the village of Sloten on the other.
The spacious dwellings are superbly sited on the waterside embankment. The back gardens consist of a narrow strip of green and a large terrace. Between each pair of dwellings there is a stretch of luxuriant public green space. The dwellings are tapered in shape: narrow on the street side and wide on the waterside. The street elevation has four relatively small square windows with wide frames in a wall of pastel-coloured stucco. Each pair of dwellings is a different colour, ranging from pale pink to pale blue. The side elevations are clad with coarse profiled aluminium. The aluminium functions both as a roof and elevations. It is folded over both dwellings and opens on the waterside like a cap around the large tilted glazed elevation, which looks out over the meadow De Vrije Geer.
The nature park Vrije Geer is also worth taking a look at. This four hectare area of green space is a controversial meadow. It is the last remaining stretch of peat meadow following the large-scale urban development between Amsterdam and the village of Sloten. In 1995, this ‘Sloten meadow’ was the subject of a referendum, after which further development plans were scrapped. In 2003, the site was officially opened as Nature Park De Vrije Geer. (Renate van Schaik / ARCAM)