Dutch regulations impose zoning bylaws based – in part – on the noise level of port activities. This prevents residential units from being located close to such activities. In order to meet the high demand for housing units, Amsterdam has adopted a strategy of temporary occupation of abandoned port sites close to the active port. Student housing units have been created in transition areas such as Houthaven and NDSM Wharf, to help meet housing needs for this population segment, which typically only requires temporary accommodation.
The establishment of student housing units in container-type modules blends in nicely with the port identity, while maintaining their mobile and provisional nature, allowing the city of Amsterdam to recover the sites in future, for other uses.
The creation of a student housing unit in an old cruise ship is another example. Housing is provided for this transient population, while retaining the symbolic characteristics of the port.
The principle of flexibility is at the heart of the design of certain other buildings. These evolution-capable buildings are located close to port activities, and are being used for offices. The site will eventually become a mostly urban sector, and the units will then be adapted for residential use, though they may also be kept as offices, if the need for enhancing port activities becomes a share priority.