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In the former restaurant of StarFerry in the ‘Muziekgebouw aan het IJ’ the new fish restaurant Zouthaven opened up. The restaurant is an intimate low threshold space of 260 m2 where everything revolves around experience and affordable enjoyment of sustainably captured fish and shellfish. 

Program                      Fish Restaurant

                                       (capacity 180 people)

Status                           Completed August 2011

Size                               260 m²

Location                       Amsterdam (Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ), The Netherlands

Client                             Verhaaf Party Catering 

Architect                      Liong Lie

Design team                Roeland de Jong, Andrea Sollazzo, Emanuel Vieira

Brand positioning       Het Veranderbedrijf, Barbara van Veen

Contractor                    Arjan van Dijk Groep, Oosterhout

Lighting                         OSRAM, Capelle aan den IJssel



The existing restaurant existed for 5 years and did not run so well. It only made turnover during events in the ‘Muziekgebouw’. The challenge laid in the different identities of the visitors. The aim of the design was to attract not only visitors of concerts but also business and private visitors who come for lunch or dinner. This could only be achieved by creating a less anonymous and more intimate atmosphere. The additional wish of the client to increase the number of seating from 140 to 180 seats made the challenge complete.   


The concept for Zouthaven consists of 3 parts. A synergy between routing, presentation and ceiling design ensures a total experience. The concept for routing and table layout is based on creating places. By creating a raised seating area in the middle of the restaurant zoning is realized naturally. There are 4 zones that all have their individual service. Each zone, consisting out of max. 50 seats has its own service desk and checkout. Besides the efficient servicing the raised area of the restaurant gives the space more variation and depth.

Underwater ceiling

 Lightning in the ceiling is a important part of the spatial design and one of the key aspects of creating the restaurant’s atmosphere. Inspired by the submarine world the ceiling is made completely black. Spread throughout the space on different heights are hanging white glass bulbs. In between these bulbs are waving LED-lines. The lighting gives a more intimate atmosphere to the space and communicates the identity of Zouthaven. It also helps visitors to navigate through the space. 

Detailing and Presentation

A big part of the restaurant is being flanked by a 9 meter long white bar. This bar is finished with Corian, tiles and stainless steel and is accommodated with integrated basins for the fresh lobsters and display plateaus for ‘the catch of the day’. The display of the products and their preparation are a essential part of the design and dining experience. And because the whole restaurant is provided with glass facades, it is even visible from the foyer of the adjacent concert hall, how the fish is being prepared. 

The rest of the materialization of the interior is kept quite in a subtle way with where possible, reuse of existing materials. For instance the old wooden chairs, now painted white, are being used as new. The white tables are provided with a print from the fishery and the floor underneath them is a sustainable wooden floor which seems to be a continuation of the dock of the IJ river. The space is kept as transparent as possible, with long sightlines, no obstacles and necessary signage as projections  on the glass and from inside transparent logo’s high on the external façade. The result is a perfect setting for a fish restaurant with in the background the always wide and unique view of the IJ river.