Amsterdam has been working for 20 years to build a 10-island archipelago rise from the waters of IJmeer lake, capable of holding 18,000 homes.

One island, Centrumeiland, was built in 2015, and is now ready for building reports CityLab contributor Feargus O'Sullivan. The new community will be 70% self built, feature affordable homes, and will focus on creating a reduced carbon footprint.

O'Sullivan writes:

Centrumeiland is the seventh island in the new archipelago, and it should be the greenest yet. For a start, the homes on the new island—there should be 1,200 when complete—will be especially resilient in the face of high water. Each building will be protected from flooding by being elevated onto a low mound slightly above the level of the public spaces. These mounds, called Terpen, have in fact been used in this region since prehistory to make life feasible in areas of unpredictable tides. To make the island even more flood resistant, all green areas will be threaded with small, open storm channels that can feed rainwater into the unsurfaced parts of the island and thus keep drains from overflowing.

Furthermore, none of these homes on mounds will be connected to natural gas lines, part of a plan to wean all of Amsterdam off the use of home boilers by 2050. Instead, the island’s heat will be provided by a district heating system fueled by heat pumps, a system that has the great advantage of transferring heat to where it is needed without having to generate that heat in the first place. Each dwelling, meanwhile, will be triple-glazed and equipped with a heat recovery pump, solar panels, and a rainwater-harvesting tank to reduce fuel and water use. An overall plan is being adopted to ensure that the buildings incorporating all these features are spaced at a variety of heights and alignments. This is to ensure a good variety of different public and semi-public spaces, which will include communal roof gardens, green courtyards, and an exterior cordon of trees surrounding the island.

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