Jonas, a building with a highly innovative housing concept and a spectacular spatial interior that achieves the highest possible sustainability certificate, BREEAM Outstanding, is under construction at the harbour of IJburg. Jonas will enhance social cohesion, in what is still a new district, by creating a sustainable, inviting heart for the neighbourhood. Orange Architects designed Jonas, with a mixed-use programme, for Amvest in collaboration with ABT, Felixx Landscape Architects, Site Urban Development and city maker Floor Ziegler. Ballast Nedam West is in charge of construction.
The name Jonas refers to the story of ‘Jonas and the Whale’. It stands for adventure and intimacy, but also for protection, shelter and comfort inside a ‘big body’. It is a heroic building with a warm heart. But Jonas is also a sustainable and attractive building that stands out from the surrounding buildings in IJburg – if only because of the special site on the headland and the special programme it accommodates. The building expresses in a striking manner themes that belong to this location: water, quayside and the craft of shipbuilding. As a result, Jonas feels natural, because the building embraces the ‘soul of the place’ and renders it visible.
The name Jonas is a reference to ‘Jonas and the Whale’, a tale about adventure and intimacy, and about shelter, security and homeliness inside a ‘big body’
The building with its irregular openings creates the impression that the windows are gently undulating across the facade. That makes Jonas a bit different. It is not covered in stone but faced in dark, pre-patinated zinc. The facade does not touch the ground but is lifted off it. The volume is not rectangular but diamond-shaped. That makes it both familiar and alienating, sculptural yet rational, recognizable yet innovative.
But the real surprise of Jonas awaits inside. This is welcoming, warm and spectacular. It expresses a modern and sustainable community life. The interior is unexpected and surrealistic. The spatial concept is based on the way traditional wooden ships are constructed: a skeleton consisting of a series of trusses arranged in a row, which form the main structure. This allows large hollows to be carved out of the volume, and the required housing programme, a total of 273 apartments, is contained within the ‘skin’ of the building.
A public route extends through the building, linking together the collective programme: a living room, a cinema, a yoga studio, lounge and work space, two guest rooms, offices and a rooftop beach and bar. The facilities have a clearly sustainable and community profile. Part of the programme is also accessible to locals. The public forecourt in front of the building functions as a three-dimensional playground and serves as terraced seating for films, performances and events. The green interior, with trees providing shade, invites people to linger and – in the summer – there is even a city beach on the water’s edge.
Besides the attention for social sustainability, Jonas is brimming with technically sustainable elements. The zero-energy building boasts a large number of solar panels on the roof. The sustainable energy is used for, among others, the mechanical installations and lighting system. Moreover, a low-temperature heating system connects to the public heating grid. The cold storage source uses the nearby water: Thermal Energy from Surface Water (TEO). As a result, the homes can be both heated and cooled.
In addition to providing a future-proof energy supply, the design aims to reduce the use of materials and to reuse raw materials. The environmental impact of materials was an important selection criterion, and the use of various raw materials was considered on multiple occasions during the process. The shadow price and carbon footprint of construction materials were constantly monitored and optimized. For example, the concrete is CSC certified, and at least a quarter of the granulate consists of recycled material, taken from construction waste for example. European Douglas wood is used both inside and outside.
The landscaping is nature-inclusive and is aimed at strengthening the ecological values of the area. For example, native riverside vegetation is planted. Moreover, mussel reefs are created in the water as a natural way of improving water quality and increasing biodiversity. A special feature to be built is a wall for sand martins. This species of bird belongs in this area but it is now under increasing pressure because of all the construction taking place. The sand martin wall will ensure that this species finds a home in the area again. In addition to the measures to boost flora and fauna, Jonas wants to help in various ways to counter the effects of climate change. Rainwater, for example, is collected in the basement and reused to flush toilets in the public spaces and commercial units on the ground floor.
It makes the building both familiar and alienating, sculptural yet rational, recognizable yet innovative
The vegetation on the rooftop beach slows down water run-off. The moving water layer on the glass roof above the canyon provides for a pleasant experience of the rooftop beach and cools the glass in the summer. The patio, where a number of mature trees are planted in open ground, is a shaded place for contemplation, an extremely suitable spot in which to withdraw on a hot summer day. Everything in Jonas is geared to stimulating social interaction and encounters to ensure that the building becomes a focal point for activities and thus forms its own small economy. Besides the technical sustainability, we want Jonas to demonstrate that green and social sustainability are important principles, which are perhaps of the greatest importance for the success of the building and its surroundings.
How generous can you be! The doors are open, and the living room and forest are accessible to the public. During the daytime, everybody can visit the canyon or stroll around the harbour through the building
Bouw en Uitvoering, nr. 2 2021, pp 8-21, 'Wonen in de wondere wereld van Jonas', Betty Rombout
"de 25 groenste gebouwen 2018-2022"
Green Buildings Magazine, nr. 4 2019, pp 48-61 (RU), pp 129-131 (EN)