AMSTERDAM – Finch Buildings produces contemporary housing units that are movable and customisable, as well as healthy to live in and sustainable to make. With a company whose product is offering an answer to the pressing question to the future of housing, it seems like the modular housing market is getting an innovative addition.
Java-Eiland is a neighbourhood in Amsterdam situated on a peninsula, currently hosting FabCity, a campus for urban innovation. Meeting architect and founder of Finch Buildings Jurrian Knijtijzer in his temporary home and office – four partially joint boxes – is a formative experience. Modular housing has seldom appeared more aesthetically pleasing and permanent. The term 'box' comes from Knijtijzer himself, a reference to the lego-esque simplicity of his product. Each unit is exactly the same: 3.9m-wide and 10.2m-long. The standard amount of living space – 24sq-m to be exact – leaves generous outdoor areas on both sides of the building.
Yet everything could be different, Finch Buildings' strong point is flexibility. The kitchen and the bathroom are modular too, which allows them to be installed anywhere in the room – or to not be installed at all, making the boxes suitable to be used for health care, schools, hotels, offices and kindergartens. Bearing in mind that up to seven units can be stacked on top of each other and connected horizontally or vertically, the range of possibilities is manifold. And with both structure and finish made entirely from sustainable timber, aesthetics need not be compromised for ethics.
The wooden interiors give the space a lofty feel, while the natural material breathes and balances humidity levels. Thinking about long-term equilibrium, a new tree is planted for every deforested one. It is Finch Buildings' sophisticated approach to details and their investment for the time to come that distinguishes the small company.
By implication, fossil energy sources are banned from the units and appliances are powered electrically. The heating is provided by an infrared heater, which statistically - including all technical appliances - means only 5% of the dwelling can not be recycled. 'I like to say we are the Tesla of housing,' laughs Knijtijzer. 'I know it's not very modest', but he is right. The young architect's aim is to make sustainability mainstream, and by pairing his plan with alluring design, efficiency and a plethora of collaborators, his chances are realistic.
Finch Buildings is currently working on two large-scale projects in Amsterdam, creating housing for students and refugees, as well as offices for start-ups. Moreover, Finch Buildings is developing modular housing solutions for low-income families on the Phillippines.
The official launch event will be held on 11 May 2016 at the FabCity campus on Java-Eiland in Amsterdam.