Caransa Group and RED Company win tender for the development of the Havenstraat site in Amsterdam

The municipality of Amsterdam selected RED Company and Caransa Groep to develop the Havenstraat, located in Oud-Zuid, into VrijHaven. A unique neighborhood with middle-income rental and owner-occupied homes, space for makers, and community facilities. The raw and experimental atmosphere of the Havenstraatterrein will be preserved and made future-proof. Caransa Groep and RED Company will realize approximately 350 homes here, of which 70% are in the middle-income segment and 30% are in the free sector, and a substantial social and commercial program including hospitality, retail, and space for businesses. VrijHaven is designed by Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke & Ard de Vries Architecten, Team V Architectuur, Joppe Kusters, Powerhouse Company and DELVA Landscape Architecture. The designs are characterized by a high degree of sustainability and consist of reused and biobased materials.

Havenstraat becomes VrijHaven
The Havenstraatterrein has a special history. With the disappearance of the railway, the area has long been a fringe area of the city. Elements of the former station and railway yard are still visible, even today. It is a unique place within Amsterdam, with room to experiment, no strictly imposed frameworks, a relaxed and creative atmosphere, and a close-knit community. After years of planning, the outlines of the new neighborhood have now been laid down in a zoning plan. The municipality then issued a tender for the redevelopment, which was won by Caransa Groep and RED Company. The winning entry, VrijHaven, celebrates the site’s raw and unconstrained nature.

The monumental plinth with Kopgebouw and the new tram shed play an important role as carriers of the identity of the plan. Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke has designed this ‘Oerplint’ as a robust and monumental ode to the area’s rich history. The space around the building blocks is designed in such a way that it can be appropriated by residents, in true Amsterdam fashion, to strengthen the connection with the street. Of the commercial plinth program, 50% is assigned to crafters, manufacturers, and artists at a reduced rate. The historical trams will be exhibited and renovated in the tram shed. The roof of the tram shed is transformed into VrijPlaats: in addition to a fixed program, film screenings, small-scale events, and exhibitions can be organized here. The Kopgebouw positions itself behind the monumental Haarlemmermeer station as a timeless and generous Amsterdam building block.

A rich program
VrijHaven is divided into twelve small-scale residential blocks, each with its own character and entrance, located on top of and next to the Oerplint. The robust character of the Havenstraatterrein is reimagined with the use of harvested and reused facade materials. The varied mix of shell, studio, duplex apartments, and lofts has a flexible layout. The residential blocks are designed by Team V Architectuur, Joppe Kusters, and Powerhouse Company.

The courtyards, designed by DELVA Landscape Architects, are in contrast with the hustle and bustle of the street. A continuous railway track forms a legible, circular route through the neighborhood. The various ‘stops’ along the track are transformed into informal meeting spaces for residents. An art route in the public space further enhances this walking route. The gates, various outer walls, underpasses, and stairwells become a canvas for street art. In addition to the inner gardens, there are various common areas spread over the plan, such as the Buurtkamer+.

Nanne de Ru, co-founder of RED Company: “We are in a unique position to develop housing in such a beautiful and special place in Amsterdam. The design team has created a balanced plan that does justice to the history of the area. At the same time, the plan contributes to the sustainable ambitions of the city of Amsterdam. We look forward to collaborating with this excellent team of architects, in close cooperation with the municipality of Amsterdam.

Maurits Caransa, director of Caransa Groep:”We are incredibly proud to be able to work on this unique piece ofAmsterdam. Preserving the atmosphere and at the same time adding new homes to the city is a fantastic task.

Leading in sustainability
VrijHaven will be an energy-efficient, healthy, and energy-supplying district. By designing the development parametrically and in balance with spatial quality, VrijHaven becomes an ‘EnergieHaven’. In combination with ambitious energy-saving methods, VrijHaven achieves impressive BENG scores. The entire district is connected to a smart grid to reduce energy costs, CO2 emissions, and grid congestion.

VrijHaven is realized with minimal environmental impact and maximum value for the future. More than half of the materials are reused, recycled, or biobased. Urban Mining Concrete is used for the plinth, with a wooden construction for the building blocks that land on the plinth. The blocks that land on ground level have a construction made up of reusable materials. Through various mitigating measures, such as a mobility hub on the edge of the plan, the careful integration of mini hubs per block, and various types of shared mobility, cars are banned from the streets, and pedestrians and cyclists are given priority.

Caransa Groep and RED Company intend to remain involved in the development of VrijHaven for the long term. All middle-income rental housing, and half of the owner-occupied program, held for the long term.

Construction of VrijHaven is expected to start in early 2026. VrijHaven will be completed in 2028.

Project information
Municipality: Gemeente Amsterdam
Developers: Caransa Groep, RED Company
Architecture: Studio Donna van Milligen Bielke & Ard de Vries Architecten, Team V Architectuur, Powerhouse Company, Joppe Kusters
Realization: Construction Company
Partners: DELVA Landscape Architects (landscape), Tenderboost (strategy &
concept), DGMR (building physics & sustainability), Merosch (energy concept), Alba Concepts (circular materials), Vlasman (circular materials), The Future Mobility Network (sustainable mobility), OMRT (parametric studies), Van Rossum (structural engineer), CLT-s (wood construction engineer), STIPO (stakeholder management, program), De Omgevingsformule (stakeholder management, transport over water), Metron (building costs advisory)
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Program: ca 350 rental and owner-occupied housing units, tram shed with public program,
neighborhood livingroom, GP practice, commercial space, hospitality, makers spaces, retail, cultural facilities, mobility hub, bike and car parking
GFA: 43.088 m2

Beelden: Proloog / Aesthetica / Powerhouse Company
Project film: Blickfanger & Patrick van der Gronde