Biophilia sets sail in The Netherlands

Freebooter is a small building located in the centre of the island of Zeeburgereiland in Amsterdam, facing the IJ river, consisting of two duplexes of 120m2 each.


Sensitive to Dutch history, customs and culture, the project took The Netherlands’ maritime past as its starting point. Freebooter thus becomes a modern ‘ship on land’, with many references to the wind, water and sailing.

The project’s name itself is a reference to the historical figure of the ‘Freebooter,’ private freelancers who assembled teams of sailors to explore the high seas. As well as acknowledging Dutch innovation and the nations’ pioneering nature, it was the spirit of the Freebooter that Project Architect, Designer and GG-loop Founder Giacomo Garziano sought to deliver to the apartments, by bringing together a highly qualified team of craftsmen and carpenters to help him achieve his vision.

Architectural choices

The main materials of the building, like a ship’s hull, were limited to wood, steel and glass. The floorplan of each apartment, referencing a ship’s layout, is organic and free-flowing with step-inclines to spaces that are designed to envelop and ‘unfold’ as the inhabitant moves through it.

One of the most important features of Freebooter is its use of light. GG-loop conducted a year-round study of light conditions to create the optimal shape and positioning of the structure’s louvres. This parametric facade enabled the optimal distribution of light while simultaneously allowing for an appropriate level of privacy.

The project is made of a hybrid structure of cross-laminated timber (CLT) and steel, and was prefabricated offsite, allowing for an exceptionally fast build time of three weeks for the four floors. Finishing the block took six months.

Unique properties

Designed and developed by GG-loop, the project is an expression of the studio’s signature and philosophy of responding to the design brief with the experience and wellbeing of the end-user continuously in mind.

“Our first residential building in Amsterdam represents the quality standards of our future projects, based on high energy efficiency, high-quality interior spaces and natural materials.

“The floorplan, flow of spaces and organic lines were also created with careful consideration of daily use and the typical tasks of dwellers – in short, so the home is a healthy and productive habitat for rest and living,” says Giacomo Garziano, Architect and Founder at GG-loop.


Celebrating craftsmanship in contemporary design, this building of two tailor-made apartments harmonises form and function on a meticulously designed plan. With a striking exterior, it has become a central point of the district; the block opens onto a compact interior plan revealing combinations of windows, wooden interiors and high-quality finishes, with open organic curves that walk through comfortable living spaces, promoting a feeling of wellbeing and a connection to nature.


The project is the result of in-depth research in the field of timber construction. The hybrid system in CLT and steel structure was developed throughout the design process to optimise interior space and time of construction.


In the initial studies, comparative tests were made between a concrete structure and the CLT structure. The latter has proven to be the most qualitative solution, thanks to its structural performance and its optimisation of construction time, and also its carbon footprint since wood naturally stores CO2. The impact on the cost of an efficient CLT structure is less than 10%, compared to a concrete solution.

Energy and environment

The building’s energy consumption is close to 0. This result is the combination of 24 solar panels on the roof, high-performance wall insulation and glass walls, coupled with low-temperature underfloor heating and a mechanical and natural ventilation system.

98% of the wood used is PEFC certified. With 122.5m3 of wood used, the building stores nearly 80 tonnes of CO2, offsetting nearly 700,000 km of exhaust gas from a mid-range car and the energy consumption of 87 homes in one year.

“We are part of nature in a deep and fundamental way, but in our modern lives, we’ve lost that connection,” says Giacomo Garziano. “Our studio envisions home and city design that respects both inhabitants and the environment, reconnecting both in the process.

“Freebooter is a response to that; as I see biophilic design as the key to truly innovative design, balancing the technical aspects of environmentally conscious construction with the qualitative, lived-in experience of an organic and natural space.”

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