NIO architecten
Amsterdam, Netherlands | View Map
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Private Houses

A houseboat on the River Schinkel in Amsterdam

NIO architecten as Architects

It’s a well-known adage that the knife cuts both ways. What this means is that each advantage has its disadvantage, that there’s a drawback to everything. This makes it an unanswerable platitude that results in a great deal of apathy. Better than a knife that cuts both ways is a knife with two blades, which share the same handle and where each blade has a single cutting edge. This is known as a twin blade. It allows you to cut two different things at a single stroke or to facilitate two dissimilar functions - or characters - at one and the same time. And that’s the idea behind the houseboat.

The houseboat is literally (and coincidently) a twin blade, which it also is in figurative terms. As seen from the outside, it appears to be 98% symmetrical. But once inside, your perception capsizes to reveal an asymmetrical structure with two faces. This houseboat has been designed for a couple with completely different characters. Whereas he is a composer and a musician, she is a visual artist. Whereas he is something of a worrier, she is cool, calm and collected. Whereas he is always pale, she is never seen without bright red lipstick. And whereas he works in an underwater cellar in a remarkably integrated and high-ceilinged space, she sits upstairs in a studio with a low ceiling that reflects the water’s surface.

Then there’s the staircase in the middle, which connects these two rooms by way of the bedroom, the living room and the kitchen. Although actually it’s not so much a staircase as an ascent that launches you into the living room… Effectively, this room is the handle that joins the spaces of the “sound cellar” and the “image attic”, that holds them together and creates something communal. And that’s how it should be. The ability to remain as sharp as a knife without getting in each other’s way: in perfect, asymmetrical symmetry.

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