Bridge Breda #1

A red double pylon catches the eye from afar. Marking a new cycling and walking route, it supports the bridge in the redeveloped park ‘De Hoge Vucht’ in Breda.

Developed in the 1960s, park ‘De Hoge Vucht’ lies on the northern edge of Breda. One section of the park, an offshoot between two residential areas, was redesigned.

Two pylons gently curving towards each other represent the balance of forces within the construction. The two pylon sections touch at the join of the guy wires that carry the cross girders, which support the main girders of the roadway. These main girders glide onto ledges on the sides of the concrete land abutments and thus fixate the bridge. The pylon is clad in perforated red sheeting. From a distance, the pylon looks solid. On approaching the bridge, however, the skin appears to dissolve and the steel construction becomes visible. The railing features minimal design.

Bridge Breda #2

Like a giant boomerang, Brug Breda #2 is perched on residential island Het Reigersnest, part of park De Hoge Vucht.

The pale grey bridge accesses 20 dwellings. It is akin to Brug Breda #1, the red bridge that highlights a new walking and cycling route a bit further on. Though requirements with regard to load-bearing capacity were more stringent for this second bridge than for the first, because its design includes a parking location for fire engines, they were designed as a family.

The pylons look like gigantic boomerangs. One leg is anchored to the residential island. On the opposite side, the roadway is suspended from guy ropes. Lighting is integrated in the roadway and the pylons. The water flowing beneath the bridge is visible through large holes, covered by grating.

Bridges Abtswoudsepark

Five small houses that look like follies mark the bridges in the otherwise straightforward slagen landscape of Abtsewoudepark. The delicate steel constructions of the prototypical cottages create ever-changing perspectives of the surrounding countryside.

Designed by David Louwerse, Abtswoudsepark connects residential area Delft-Tanthof to the Midden-Delfland peat meadow nature reserve. Elongated oblong spaces between the tree-lined avenues and ditches are the visible remains of the original slagen landscape. A wide footpath with bridges crosses the area at right angles to the ditches and elongated meadows. To create an attractive walking route, the five bridges are designed as follies. Delicate steel constructions that suggest cottages top the bridges. The five visibly related constructions are neatly lined up and each one frames the remainder of the series. By playing with the position of the columns to change the roof shape, each bridge is slightly different. The roof is spherical, for instance, when the columns slant outward, whereas inward-slanting columns form a concave roof.

To cyclists on Abtswoudseweg, the yellow-orange roofs seem to hover over the landscape.

Complex 208


Datacentrum (Datacentre)

Beneath racing Dutch clouds, green glass sparkles in the grey concrete of the new data centre on the campus of Delft University of Technology. Functionality, security and the need for a short construction period determined the basic form and materialization of this design. However, by examining and using the plastic potential of the prefab concrete, this functional, robust box was provided with an elegant exterior.

The old TU Delft data centre being closed down occasioned this commission, which implied the construction of a new, nice-looking burglar-proof data centre in a short period of time. Business continuity was important to the client and, consequently, to the design and its realization. As the building plan is scalable and modular, it is future proof as well.

No regular workspaces are involved, and the mainly technical areas that make up the programme were combined to form a closed, secure and durable box. The functions require a tremendous number of vents, however, and these are particularly vulnerable from a security point of view. The building design overcomes this dilemma. Spaces with the required wall openings for the input and extraction of air adjoin a 4.5-m-wide patio on both sides. This corridor, in turn, is provided with fresh air through the entrance gate on one side and through the cutouts in the concrete elements, shaped like an oversized grid, on the opposite façade. This allowed an almost entirely closed building exterior.

The raised floor rules out the chance of flooding. As if it were a fortress, only a gentle slope lends access to the building via a slender steel bridge.

Prefab concrete was used to wrap the building in a sturdy, unruly skin while abiding by the very tight schedule. The slanting lines in the façade match the trees that surround the building. To realize this graphic, special elements were developed in collaboration with a concrete manufacturer, finished in a number of ways but using the same mould. Though the exterior suggests otherwise, a mere three moulds sufficed. Both concrete straight from the cast and sand-blasted concrete were used. Some surfaces have a bamboo-structure, created by placing mats inside the casing. The fourth finish type includes recycled glass and is especially striking.

It was vital that the glass preserve its rough and irregular dimensions. To achieve this, a 3-cm-thick layer, which stuck directly to the concrete during the pouring, was sprinkled into the casing. The sharp-looking splinters contribute to the forbidding appearance. In fact, it is tumbled glass without any sharp edges. To have the building blend into the green environment, the colours are modest: greyish-white concrete and greenish glass.

De Holle Mare

The rhythm of the windows in the low-rise accompanies the dynamics of the trains. Inquisitively, metal roof boxes peek over the sound barrier on the embankment.

A wall of single-family dwellings screens off the new Poelgeest residential area from the The Hague – Haarlem railway line. Low gateways lend access to the small streets beyond. The northern edge of the neighbourhood features a compact block of apartments embedded in the dike along the Holle Mare River.

The difference in width between the economic dwelling types and the more expensive residences is unobtrusive due to the composition of the vertical windows in the low-rise structures. The protruding roof constructions that identify the gateways have also been realized as buyers’ options. The brickwork features a distinctive, pale yellow, grey-specked brick like a lapwing’s egg.

Designed for starters, the narrow dwellings are small but have a spacious feel to them due to the totally private residential first floor. The wide dwellings have four rooms and a spacious lounge on the noisy railway side. The gatehouses make extremely flexible dwellings. Their double-width upper floor may remain open-plan, or can be arranged according to the inhabitant’s wishes. The end house is a remarkable dwelling with double-high residential space and a beautiful first-floor view.

The apartments are spaciously arranged around an efficient facility core. There are four dwellings on each level and transposing them in twos creates a light well between the gallery and the façade. The base includes an entrance hall, a block of storage spaces and a car park.

The play of rhythms and patterns recurs in the façades of the apartments. The cherry-wood coloured panels show up in a number of combinations that appear to have been distributed over the façade at random. The metal mesh wrapped around the steel balconies creates semi-transparent balustrades. A courser version of this material was used to clad the ventilating car park façade. Trimmed with glass U-profiles, the gallery protrudes like a giant lantern on the street side and identifies the main entrance of De Holle Mare.

De Hooge Plaaten


De Kriekenboomgaard (Black Cherry Orchard)

Centuries ago, cherry orchards surrounded the historic centre of Oud Beijerland. Each year, the locals celebrated the Kriek Days, named after a local species of cherry. A multiple study on one of the residential service zones just outside the Oud Beijerland town centre led to the design for De Kriekenboomgaard. Public amenities were added to the housing scheme for this characteristic small-town location.

The design connects a number of new squares to the town. At the centre of the plan is a square with three species of flowering cherry trees planted in an oblong grid. Their blossoms, inflorescence and flowering seasons vary.

The restaurant terrace and the entrances to the day-care centre and the offices lend access to the square, which is open to the general public on the town side. A gateway that incorporates the entrance to the library subtly connects Kriekenboomgaard to the streets of the town.

Dwellings encompass the other side of the square. These are apartments for senior citizens that top a half sunken car park, which loosely yet distinctly ensures the privacy of the communal outdoor terrace.

A covered, communal courtyard connects the remaining senior citizens’ apartments and the care facilities – including a communal space, a caretaker’s space and guest rooms. Now fully sunk, the car park extends beneath this square. It features a plot planted with a tall species of bamboo. From the atrium, it looks as if a bamboo screen rises up to the roof, an aviary filled with tropical birds.

The communal space of the apartments connects the two squares.

Clad in polyester resin sheets with grey-green stone granules, the public amenities face the town. The meandering strips of fenestration adapt to the different functions and alternately provide views and shelter.

The urban design results in different living environments. Residents can choose a quiet, safe place on the atrium square or a dwelling in a more public location on Kriekenplein or Abel Tasmanstraat. All dwellings feature a yellowish white brick, also used to pave the atrium and the outdoor terrace on Kriekenplein.

Inside the library, a three-storey book cabinet provides the traditional function of book storage. Via a mezzanine, the cabinet realizes an open connection to open-plan floors that accommodate contemporary use: digital searching and leisure reading.

De Nachtegaal (The Nightingale)

Sheltered living in a stretch of greenery, on an east-facing atrium or on a west-facing courtyard.

A number of casually juxtaposed, large residential buildings sit in a stretch of greenery in Charlois, a Rotterdam neighbourhood on the edge of the Zuiderpark. The Woonstad housing association, already the owner of several of these plots, contemplated the acquisition of the convalescent home and a number of adjoining lots also located in this stretch of greenery. On behalf of Woonstad, two scenarios were investigated to substantiate the acquisition. One included replacing the convalescent home, one did not.

The proposed scenarios both preserve the layout consisting of large blocks with wedges of green between them. The various types of single-family dwellings form a closed low-rise block. The residential building with apartments for senior citizens is as high as the adjoining buildings. These dwellings wrap themselves around two courtyards that pull the greenery into the building block. One of the courtyards is located on top of the car park and covered. The residents can use it in bad weather or during cold spells. This courtyard includes ground-floor spaces for services such as a small shop and a hairdresser.

De Scheg (The Skeg)

An archipelago on which to live, play sports and relax and enjoy oneself inspires the use of water: not only as a natural boundary but also to create an adventure playground.

The commission for urban design plan De Scheg (subplan 1.4 of the Rietlanden in Vleuterweide) was interpreted as a landscaping assignment. In collaboration with BGSV landscape architect Dirk Hölzer, it was decided to use water to separate the special features from the homes. The single-family dwellings and one of the two blocks of flats occupy the largest island, and the adventure playground covers two green islands in the south. The Bastion, with a sports field, a sports hall and the other block of flats, connects the area to Rietlanden town centre.

A residential street that runs from west to east lends access to the islands. It links all of the dwellings by means of a spacious square with parking space beneath the trees. Another important element is the solid green partition along the gardens and end walls, which screens off the north of the residential island from an express bus lane.

All buildings are clad in the same bright-red shaded brick. To underline the rural character of the area, the single-family dwellings are fitted with gabled roofs. The blocks of flats have matching sloping roof planes.

Mix Architecten, No Labeland and Moederscheim Moonen developed the architecture, supervised by Joke Vos.

Drie palazzi

The urban design for Java Island includes central areas between the buildings that are landscaped into ‘green rooms’. These urban gardens feature three freestanding ‘palazzos’ with 13 dwellings each. By analogy with the prototypical Italian palazzo, their floor plan is symmetrical with an oblong main volume and two lower wings.

On the ground floor, a strip of storage spaces separates the private gardens from the properties along the transversal canals. The ‘green rooms’ lend access to the apartments in the main volume, which have livings rooms and balconies that overlook the green. The apartments in the wings have a separate entrance.

The two-bedroom and three-bedroom dwellings are subject to municipal purchase restrictions. Lacking lifts, the blocks contain two stairwells that may be used as escape routes.

Finished in yellow-orange brick on all sides, the palazzos have concrete porches and verandas. The entrance façade along the park is accentuated by the black English stone used above the base: here, the façade cladding features protruding aluminium frames that enclose horizontal strips of living-room fenestration and balconies.

Drie Stempels aan de Javakade

To create spaciousness within close perimeters, unusual floor plans were developed for three clusters of residential buildings along Javakade. Designed like a family, the south sides of the blocks of flats feature prefab concrete screens, while green courtyards border the reflecting walls at the back.

The strict subdivision of Java Island is clearly visible from the Oostelijke Handelskade. Sjoerd Soeters’ urban design sets out the main features of the ‘clusters’, and neighbouring clusters were never assigned to one and the same architect. The binding urban design envelope inspired the creation of unusual residential floor plans, in many cases with double-width waterside living spaces and in half of them connected to a double-height balcony. These outdoor spaces lie behind a prefab concrete screen.

The three allotted clusters in different locations on Javakade are visibly related. The dwellings have identical floor plans but the concrete elements are stacked in a different graph in each cluster. They are finished in different colours, with a blue, a charcoal and a terra-red version.

The centre of Java Island features so called ‘green rooms’ that border the backs of the buildings. These are finished in gleaming, enamelled glass in various colours.

Entrees Sterrenburg (Entrances Sterrenburg)

The new entrances of two renovated apartment buildings are reminiscent of modern hotel lobbies, except that they are vandalism-proof. Identically shaped, they look and feel quite different. One lobby features yellow-orange colours and lots of lights and refers to the sun. The other features blue-green hues and glass tiles and refers to the water.

Dordrecht housing association Progrez is engrossed in a gradual revitalization of the Sterrenburg area. In this context, the façades of two related blocks of flats have been thoroughly renovated by Daan ter Avest. Joke Vos Architects designed new entrances to both complexes.

The entrances link the public domain outside to the personal domain inside. A wall clad in glass mosaic tiles enfolds the staircase and the existing lift. Residents can catch up with friends and neighbours on a decoratively lighted seat built into this wall. The floor and the carpet casually curl up against the opposite wall, which features a carnival mirror that paints a distorted picture of reality. A display case is fitted over the mailboxes.

Except for the new lift installed in Kleine Beerstraat, the entrances are identical. The contrast is in their colours. In Kleine Beerstraat, the warm space features yellow-orange glass mosaic and lights fitted into the floor. In Stratosfeerstraat, the walls are blue-green with blue and green glass tiles arranged haphazardly over the floor, suggesting to many people the inside of an aquarium. The tall glass entrance façades, encased in oversized steel frames, extend a welcome to the apartment buildings’ residents and visitors.


The Hague

European China Centre Rotterdam (ECCR) phase 1


Groen en Gras fase 1 (Green and Grass phase 1)

Alphen aan den Rijn
Grass roofs, side elevations covered with blue and white wisteria, house-wide flower tubs and hedges that border spacious gardens render an updated interpretation of the garden city ideal.

The municipality of Alphen aan de Rijn provided this multiple commission for a new residential area in the Kerk en Zanen district with the theme ‘Grass and Green’. Together with property developer Synchroon this green theme was fleshed out to the full. The spacious front and side gardens are bordered by hedges and conjure up a suburban atmosphere. The plan is consistently designed in grey-green ribbed concrete brick. Front doors and garages are printed with floral and plant motifs. The grass roofs and side elevations covered with blue and white wisteria add the finishing touch to this green image.

The desire to create a socially coherent neighbourhood yielded an extraordinary variety of funding categories. The five dwelling types have different widths and numbers of floors. They compose building blocks with up to nine dwellings that resemble country houses or super villas. Modification of the standard block creates country houses that fulfil the limiting conditions of the urban design and fit the location perfectly.

The country houses are sculpturally expressive, with staggered fronts and rears and wide flower tubs fitted randomly along the façades.

Each dwelling has a ground-floor living space facing the street, which is in use as a dining area in some cases and as an entrance lounge in others: various floor plans are possible. The built-in garage/storage space of the largest type can be converted into a bedroom to create a ‘cradle-to-grave’ dwelling.

The decision to coordinate the process with the contractor at an early stage has led to a speedy and efficient building process and a meticulous approach to construction.

Groen en Gras fase 2 (Green and Grass phase 2)

Alphen aan den Rijn


In December 2002, the city of Rotterdam awarded this project the Rotterdamse Bouwkwaliteitsprijs (City of Rotterdam Building Quality Prize). The jury’s report stated: ‘This coherent project matches its surroundings perfectly. Every detail proves that the design was carefully made and that the occupants and any limitations these might have were taken into consideration. In addition, the project reflects a meticulous and durable use of materials, detailing and execution.’

The project constitutes the first phase of the redevelopment of the Herkingen area in the Rotterdam Pendrecht district. The new housing respects the characteristic urban design grid, but increases density by adding height at the corner of Sommelsdijkstraat and Slinge.

The high-rise accommodates 60 apartments for senior citizens and several communal spaces. The walkway along the ground-floor dwellings overlooks the communal garden and is in use as outdoor space. Coloured concrete screens and wooden seats separate the private section from the walking area. The upper-floor walkways, however, are located on the street side of the building. As a result, the floor plans of these dwellings mirror the floor plans of the dwellings on the lower floors. This rotation is visible in the articulation of the façades and thus subtly refers to the height of the gallery flat that formerly occupied the location.

The two-sided design of the 12 live/work dwellings includes entrances on both façades. The floor plans are flexible, to facilitate genuinely different layouts.

The materialization refers to the existing neighbourhood, among other things by including plain concrete and a combination of five different brick types that all resemble the brick used originally, but in livelier colours.

Het Balkon (The Balcony)

Taking on the urban design challenge of Het Balkon, the unusual landscape solution of a double ground level was implemented. Consequently, the dwellings have two identities: they are country houses with protruding eaves that adjoin a raised park, and three-storey town houses at street level.

Soil originating from Vleuterweide areas that were developed earlier lies below subplan 1.5 of Rietlanden, Het Balkon. This 1.5-m-deep soil layer was the starting point for the urban design concept. By linking the dwellings in a compact manner and using the dug up soil to raise the space between the clusters, a height difference of 3 m is achieved: the height of a residential floor. The cross section of the dwelling benefits from this height difference: the living room has a structural terrace adjoining the park, and a sunroom or kitchen-dining room opens onto the private garden at street level.

The height difference results in a basement that can be used as an alternative to the traditional attic: as a playroom or hobby room, or to realize something more unusual, such as a music studio. The basements protrude from the incline at both ends of the rows of houses. They have incident daylight and can be used as fully-fledged workspaces.

A small gatehouse and the garden lend access to the dwelling. In addition to parking spaces and private gardens, the wide, cul-de sac access streets can accommodate communal seats or playground equipment.

The elaborated example illustrates how the architecture enhances the different spheres. Along the park, Japanese-looking low buildings with large eaves feature a lot of wood and stone. On the entrance side, the dwellings looks like town houses with walled gardens. The use of light colours contributes to the creation of a congenial courtyard.

Het Mooie Plan deelplan 1 (The Pretty Plan phase 1)

The past of Lombardijen, a post-war Rotterdam garden city, manifests itself in and through the urban design and the architecture of Het Mooie Plan – though never literally. Never losing sight of its past, the plan contributes to the creation of a new future for the area. Arthur Kleinjan’s photography is prominent in the façades and strengthens the phenomenon, but is never anecdotal.

In the urban plan, a programme of single-family dwellings gives the garden city concept a new interpretation. The new interpretation of the green zones and open, asymmetrical subdivision also revive the old garden city ideal. The transitions between private gardens and public areas receive a great deal of attention throughout the project. Depending on the location, green hedgerows have been planned or structural solutions have been devised. Parking solutions for residents have been realized within the grounds, visitors park along the road (read more at ‘The Pretty Plan Urban Planning’).

The first subplan consisting of 125 dwellings, a mix of rented and privately owned properties, was completed in July 2010. Here, the compact subdivision resulted in six very different dwelling types with floor plans that make the most of their specific position within the cluster. Traditional dwellings (A and B) alternate with patio houses (E) and with types that have their main living space on the first floor (C, D and F). The latter types offer multiple alternatives for use and layout, including an open plan living space with an unobstructed view over the green zones.

Of the two parking spaces realized beneath dwelling type C, one is designated for the corresponding dwelling and can be reached through a second front door. The other space, marked by an inlaid digit, is sold with one of the B-dwellings. To preserve Dantestraat, dwelling type D is on a short plot. A large terrace on the garage roof compensates the absence of a real garden. Oriented towards the park, the lounge ends in an architectural terrace with an integrated seat. The curve in Homerusstraat has also resulted in an unusual dwelling type, with a wide body and a short garden (F).

An important design ambition was to use art, not ornamentally or incidentally, but integrated into the architecture. The history of the location, where the old trees still refer to this recent past, was rendered visible by an extra layer in the façade. Arthur Kleinjan took photographs of nature reflected in water for the project. Enlarged and ‘displayed’ through holes in the brickwork, they seem to reflect trees, water and air.

To create a neutral setting for the art, the façades consist of white, broken concrete brick locked between charcoal grey end stones. The casings of each dwelling type are in the same position, but the rhythm of the graphics on the façades sometimes skips two or three dwellings, which results in different patterns among a family of types. The detailing is polished but restrained.

This project is a pilot for the joint venture, based on chain integration, of Com.wonen and the Dura Vermeer Group. The objective of chain integration is to realize a better product in less time and at lower cost. In the contracting and executive stages, this led to intensive collaboration between all participants: the client, counsellors, the contractor and the main subcontractors. In addition to the prevention of failure costs, trust and transparency have been key notions. By now, work on the second subplan has begun, and as work has been arranged according to the chain integration concept from the initiation stage, the architect has also been directly involved in the determination of target groups and the development of the dwelling programme.

Het Mooie Plan deelplan 2 (The Pretty Plan phase 2)


Het Mooie Plan stedenbouw (The Pretty Project urban design)

Single-family houses replace a deteriorating residential area with gallery flats. The greens zones and the open, asymmetrical subdivision are a contemporary interpretation of the old garden city ideal.

Lombardijen is one of Rotterdam’s southern suburbs. These typically feature an open subdivision in asymmetrical clusters of buildings and surplus green communal space. The technical condition of the original buildings, changed housing demands and a need to control the public space all led to the redevelopment of the area.

In the new urban design concept for Complex 207, single-family dwellings replace the existing gallery flats. The aim to create a contemporary interpretation of the original garden city ideal was an important starting point of the plan. Rather than being scattered, the public green is divided between the access street (Homerusstraat) and two wide green zones. In between, six residential plots are compactly subdivided into strips of buildings with different heights. The strips west of Homerusstraat run parallel to it, with gardens that face the east and west. To the east, on the other hand, the dwellings are perpendicular to Homerusstraat, to draw attention to the green, watery zone along the former port railway. Several unusual dwelling types are specifically oriented towards the green or the water.

The transitions between private gardens and public areas get a great deal of attention throughout the project. Depending on the location, green hedgerows have been planned or structural solutions devised to separate the public from the private. Architectural terraces with integrated seats and two-sided garden sheds built into a solid wall connect the private gardens to the public gardens by means of a terrace.

A large variety of typologies and prices resulted in ten dwelling types in approximately 200 single-family dwellings. Designed like a family, they feature similar materials and details.

The plan has been rechristened Het Mooie Plan (The Pretty Plan). The first subplan will be completed in the course of 2010 (read more at ‘Het Mooie Plan subplan 1’). The second subplan is on the agenda for 2012.

Het Schip (The Ship)

Residential building ‘Het Schip’ (‘The Ship’) is situated on the waterfront, featuring a façade clad in stoneware that looks like the steel shipyards use to build ships. The rough brick on the other façade responds to the ‘earthly’ communal roof garden.

An existing harbour in the centre of Heemstede is to be extended towards a new car park beneath residential building ‘Het Schip’. The detailed urban planning preconditions outline a shallow block with a hard ‘marine’ side along the water and a soft ‘earthly’ side along the parking deck.

The plan entered into this closed competition anticipated this by dividing the block into two halves, both lengthwise and widthwise. Lengthwise, the hard half features a smooth façade that is clad in stoneware slabs that look like unfinished ship’s skin. In contrast, the façade along the green deck is articulated and clad in a light, unfinished brick.

The shallow block is pre-eminently suitable to house maisonettes: little traffic surface and a lot of dwelling space along the façade. The widthwise cut allows for a large differentiation in types. One half comprises narrow, double-high dwellings, the other wider bayonet types. On the roof, the penthouses are slid into the hard core, with large roof terraces along the soft, sunny side.

In the high, spacious atrium the staircase coils around a freestanding lift between the two building sections, with walkways linking up in different places on different floors. Thus, an unusually spacious main access is created using but a few architectural tools.


The volume, materials and colours of the dwellings along Lange Hilleweg blend in with the existing neighbourhood, but the graphics on the façade are clearly contemporary.

The Hille is an old canal that transects the Rotterdam neighbourhood Bloemhof. Over the past decades, new buildings have replaced many of the original buildings in this pre-war garden city. However, the green character of the canal has been preserved and its banks were recently renovated.

The dwellings of the Hillesingel project contribute to the renewal of the area. Of the dwellings along the canal, three existing building blocks were replaced. The height of the new buildings matches the canal profile, with three-storey terraced houses and town houses and a cluster of four-storey dwellings with ground floor and upstairs apartments. In the planning stage, a vacant lot in one of the side streets was included. Here, a modified dwelling type with two storeys connects the new buildings to the existing ones.

The floor plans are transparent and efficient. The living spaces have unobstructed views over the canal. All of the dwellings in this working-class neighbourhood have been fitted with a spatious, closed kitchen-dining room. The upper floors of the town houses are recessed and therefore this dwelling type can be extended either during the realization of the project or at a later stage.

Compact, covered garages placed behind and beneath the terraced houses include a reserved parking space for each dwelling. This setup leaves no room for gardens and to compensate this the dwellings have large roof gardens.

Concrete strips articulate the façades and mark the entrances. Two varieties of each dwelling type were designed, creating a varied rhythm that enlivens the long line of dwellings along the canal. The graphics of the pale grey, concrete strips on red brick stand out from across the canal. Walking along the pavement in front of the houses, on the other hand, one can sense the rhythm, as the strips protrude 15 cm from the brickwork. At the end façades, the concrete strips form frames completed in mesh, a clear invitation to create green street walls. The mesh was also used for the French balconies in de façades along the canal.

Generally speaking, Bloemhof residents are not very wealthy. Yet here, too, single-family dwellings are in demand, though there is no market for expensive houses. The location along the canal, however, required buildings of at least three storeys, and the cost of parking on private property had to be included in their selling price. The project could only be realized by including ground floor and upstairs apartments, the creation of very useful and efficient floor plans and the use of a single, unusual but repetitive façade element (the concrete strips), and only after the client had made available a particular financing scheme, a precursor to the schemes that are in use since the economic crisis, to ensure that low-income families would have the opportunity to buy these houses.

In 't Park


Kantoor Schiedamsevest (Office Schiedamsevest)

In the twenty-first century, Dutch cities should no longer aspire to expand and realize new buildings, but rather to intensify ground use and reuse existing buildings. Anticipating this architectural challenge, in 2004 Joke Vos Architects moved into a run-down 1950s’ office building together with Enno Zuidema Stedebouw and Volta 43.

Located in the middle of Rotterdam, the office building on Schiedamse Vest is divided into units of approximately 100 m2, accessed by galleries. Based on a design by Joke Vos Architects, the new users have joined together five of these units by connecting them both horizontally and vertically. As the building was run-down, it was completely stripped. Demolishing three successive layers of false ceilings yielded about 30 cm of extra height.

The firms share a communal zone with an entrance, a lunch space, a kitchen and a conference area. The open-plan office spatially facilitates the waning and waxing of the cohabiting firms.

During the conversion of the office building, the interior decorating involved reuse as well. Various components originating from the firms’ former premises were included, for instance a bespoke kitchen unit, library cabinets and a hardwood façade, and the furniture the various firms had in use was brought along as well. Other elements, such as a partitioning wall for the conference space with storey-high plexwood doors and the staircases, were designed and produced to size for this office.

The landlord commissioned us to design new entrances to the galleries and supervise the renovation of the staircase.

Kenniswerf Campus


Metrobridge ECCR


Muziekwijk (Music Quarter)

Protruding concrete frames with coloured sliding panels and grilles filled with round timber shape the façades and reveal the relationship between seven different dwelling types.

During the first phase of the redevelopment of Holtenbroek 1, the so-called Music Quarter, 90 single-family dwellings replaced several clusters of outdated walk-up flats. The urban design includes dwelling typologies for the ‘new clusters’ aimed at a variety of residents and occupations. These vary from efficient two-layer starter homes to three-layer drive-in dwellings and four-layer town houses. Adding the garage of the work/live dwellings to the living space is optional. The patio houses are designed for senior citizens. The various dwelling types form closed clusters with communal courtyards. Parking is on private property, in the rear gardens adjoining the communal garden. The green area that surrounds the clusters is open to all local residents.

The materialization of the façades is subject to their position in the urban design. The lightly cemented brick inside the clusters provides a quiet backdrop for the private and communal greenery. Both the façade and the garden screen along the public green space are made of grilles, stacked with round timber. The creeper plants in the gardens, some of them flowering, can climb through freely and thus add to the green character of the zones between the clusters. A stylish black metallic brick was used along the streets. Protruding concrete frames enclose the large glass façades at residential floor level. Structural blinds in bright colours serve to regulate the incidence of light.

Nieuw Landgoed Slingerland



‘A single, grand, zigzag gesture has transformed a former school location into a friendly, sheltered complex with 48 dwellings and care facilities for the elderly that naturally merges into the context of an existing neighbourhood. Both the grand urban planning gesture and the smallest details were treated with intent and precision,’ according to the jury of the BNA Building of the Year 2009 architecture award.

The irregularly shaped site is a former school location. Much of it lies within a triangular building block that is located between a meandering seventeenth-century alley (the ‘Jodengang’ or ‘Jews Passage’) and a post-war, small-scale, green residential area on the other side of Olmenlaan.

In an earlier stage, the practice carried out a comprehensive urban model study. Intensive participation of, and various consultation rounds with, neighbours, future residents and decision makers resulted in the selection of a V-shaped zigzag. To make room for a green zone and to preserve the sight lines towards Olmenlaan, this volume was pushed towards the centre of the building block. Where there are parking facilities, the edges of the zigzag are paved. The green area is located on the other side, where it pulls, so to speak, the low-rise area’s public garden across the street and into the building block.

Views, access routes and sunlight exposure have resulted in different dwelling types. Two main stairwells access an uninterrupted walkway on the first floor that curves from outside to inside, weaves through the blocks and is combined with private outdoor space in some places.

In the façades, brickwork planes alternate with western red cedar and concrete-structured fibre-cement sheets. The brick is a subtle yellow-white and looks somewhat unfinished, the western red cedar is finished with a slightly transparent blue-grey coating. The façades of the blocks of storage space have glass frames with translucent insulation. At night these blocks are lit, marking the entrances. The remaining walkways, the protruding balconies and the lintels in the brickwork are made of white prefab concrete. Metal mesh is used to create open fencing in some places and for the French balconies. Some of the panels extend to ground level to provide climbing plants with a trellis.
The ‘care villa’ located between the teeth of the zigzag is a free-standing object that links up with the row of detached houses along Olmenlaan. The programme comprises a day-care centre and communal space, with a Grand Café on the ground floor. The café is open to local residents as well. The first and second floors contain staff facilities and two apartments.

Placing the roof of the care villa at an angle and clearing the sightline to the western entrance on the ground floor have made this an expressive volume. Thus, the new plan leaves a recognizable and characteristic mark on the neighbourhood.

Olmenhof stedenbouw (urban design)

The site lies between a meandering seventeenth-century alley (the ‘Jodengang’ or ‘Jews Passage’) and a post-war, small-scale, green residential area on the other side of Olmenlaan. Its irregular shape cuts deep into the inner courtyard of the triangular building block. The new programme comprises senior dwellings and complementary facilities.

The feasibility study carried out for this former school location consisted of a comprehensive urban model study. Intensive participation of, and various consultation rounds with, neighbours, future residents and decision makers resulted in the selection of a V-shaped zigzag. To make room for a green zone and to preserve the sight lines towards Olmenlaan, the volume is pushed towards the centre of the building block. This way, the low-rise area’s public garden across the street links up nicely with Olmenhof. Where there are parking facilities, the edges of the zigzag are paved.

Two main stairwells access an uninterrupted gallery on the first floor that curves from outside to inside, weaves through the blocks and is combined with private outdoor space in some places. This way, different dwelling types can be supplied, whereas the organization of the floor plan remains standardized.

A block containing facilities for the elderly, the ‘care villa’, links up with the detached dwellings along Olmenlaan. The ‘care villa’ is a free-standing object located between the teeth of the zigzag, standing back slightly from the street to prevent the larger volume from dominating it.


A garland of single-family dwellings headed by a contrasting, taller building: that was the starting point for the urban design of the edge of Tolhek, a Vinex-location in Pijnacker.

The apartment building consists of two narrow slabs. Consequently, the block looks really slim when approached from Klapwijkseweg. Half of it is in the water: through a wide loggia carved out of the volume, residents and visitors can walk along the water to the lift at the centre of the building. The apartments have efficiently organized floor plans, with a strip of residential space along the façade that residents may arrange at their discretion.

The garland of single-family dwellings is designed like a string of beads, alternating three narrow, tall town houses and a single wide, low dwelling. To highlight the beads, three colours of brick are used. The double-high wooden entrance units reveal that there are two residential floors. The atrium at the back of the house physically connects both residential floors as well.

Periscoopwoningen (Periscope Houses)

The final concept has evolved out of an exclusive competition asking for the design of twelve large water residences. The houses were to be expressive and appealing, yet allow for a high standard of living. The project should mark the Waterwijk in Rotterdam/Nesselande, an area where all the other housing is built without aesthetic regulations.

The periscope houses show a compact and expressive design and are surrounded by water on three sides. Within each cluster three houses are brought together to form a solid three level centre. Soft shining volumes slice through this cube. Like periscopes the houses look in different directions, thereby ensuring the privacy of the individual balconies.

The living areas are distributed among ground and first floor, each with a terrace bordering the sunny waterside. The large water room on the ground floor adjoins a spacious wooden terrace with reed and yellow flag all around. On a second lower platform small boats can moor and children can work on their fishing skills.

Arranged within a zoning of wider and smaller naves the floor plans slide into each other like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, allowing for many different subdivisions. The houses evidently belong to the same family, yet show characteristic differences in i.e. the situation of the entrance, the width of the loggia and the form of the aluminium volumes.

The materials applied are durable and low in maintenance. For the main volume a solid dark metallic brick is used. Light and elegant aluminium panels enclose the periscopes. In contrast a warm hardwood is used where the interior extends into the exterior. Apart from the choice in materials and the flexible floor plans sustainability is further sought in extra isolation and energy saving mechanisms.


It is hard to find a right angle in Het Oude Noorden, a Rotterdam working-class area that is subject to ongoing renewal. In addition, there are substantial height differences in the area. Filling in the ends of the blocks on Soetendaalseplein efficiently called for some creative puzzling.

Seven layers of apartments overlook Soetendaalseplein and the Rotte River beyond. The residential streets feature four-layer town houses. Two unusual houses finish off the building block. The courtyards are half a floor down. Each dwelling has its own parking space here, and residents are free to use the communal garden.

In the high-rise, each layer accommodates two dwellings, most of them with a view to three sides. The balcony boxes highlight the unique location. Small apartments with extra-high studios are on street level. The town houses’ living rooms are on the first floor. Their roof gardens bask in the sun on top of the retracted roof level.

The bright red brick complex matches its surroundings. The window frames are fitted into the façade in a pattern that varies per floor, with coloured acrylic panels in front of the swivel windows. Tiled surfaces of glass mosaic mark the entrances on Soetendaalseplein.

Stadstuinen (City Gardens)

Developing this urban Vinex-location, a former dock area located outside the dike yet in the middle of the city, the height difference between the street and the houses was used to design the transition from public to private by providing the suburban side-streets with front gardens and by adding stairs and doorways marked by double-height white steel frames along the city quays.

The commission to build 90 private-sector properties in this neighbourhood led to the development of three distinctly different types of dwellings that match the character of their position in the urban design.

Arranged around a central staircase, the narrow, high and typically urban town houses along the quay have two residential floors. This, together with the mezzanine between the lower floors, results in a floor plan with a lot of views and many user possibilities. The patio garden on the ground floor adjoins an extra high kitchen-dining room. A second outdoor space adjoins the living space on the first floor. We added entrances with stairs to separate the dwellings from the public quay below.

The dwellings in the side streets have a distinctly suburban character. Raised front gardens and blossoming trees that line the streets create a spacious and green street profile. The front gardens are often used to overlook playing children or to catch a little sun. In these houses, the dwelling programme is arranged on the ground floor. Sliding patio doors connect a spacious entrance lounge, which can be used as a play area, workspace or extra dining area, to the raised front garden. Many second buyers add the entrance hall space to the living room. At the rear, these city-centre dwellings have remarkably deep gardens.

Residents may partition off (part of) the ground floor of the extra large dwellings at the far ends of the quay blocks as workspace at home.

The façades are clad in brick in three colours, with a very subtle, dark red brick to the fore. The dark red is juxtaposed with a smart, gleaming dark brick on the public roadside of the blocks and a cheerful, bright red brick on the garden side. The window frames are rhythmically placed in the façade planes and create patterns that preserve the individuality of each dwelling. The quay dwellings feature wooden doorways and upper-floor bay windows embedded in white steel frames. These provide a commanding view of the old inner harbour.

Starters in de Boomgaardstraat

The city of Rotterdam struggles to retain new graduates: as they move elsewhere, the city suffers a loss in terms of diversity and economic strength. Not an alluring niche, most housing corporations agree.

‘Het Portaal’, a Rotterdam debate organizer, drew attention to the phenomenon of highly educated starters in 2004. In the context of a debate it organized about this theme, the possibilities for the conversion of an existing location owned by the Stadswonen Corporation were briefly explored.

The target group for the Boomgaardstraat project includes graduates that want to upgrade the housing conditions they endured as students and are therefore looking for one- or two-bedroom apartments with a bathroom, a small kitchen and perhaps a cheap, easily accessible work space. As these residents are likely to continue moving onwards and upwards, many corporations fear a lack of occupancy. Stadswonen, used to renting out to students, knew no such fear.

For the afternoon discussion session regarding the Boomgaardstraat project, we prepared layouts that allowed for various dwelling types and for optional adjoining workspaces. The results were used to have a variety of participants discuss the theme of highly educated starters on the Rotterdam housing market.

Toren van de Tuinen (Tower of the Gardens)


Urban Patch Strategy




Zwartwit woningen (Black and White Houses)

Solid houses with markedly overhanging eaves, reminiscent of the black wooden barns with white casings typical of Zeeland, flank the entrance of the De Stromen district. They embody the first phase of the redevelopment of this 1950s’ neighbourhood.

The dwellings in Grevelingenstraat are flexibly arranged around the wiring shaft in the centre of the house, behind the staircase. On each floor a kitchen, bathroom or storage area may be connected to the shaft in either the front or the rear. This also applies to the top storey, where the roof truss is above head level. This principle allows for 254 possible floor plans, of which 72 were eventually presented to buyers. The mezzanine between the ground floor and the first floor encourages residents to occupy different levels. The house is large enough to accommodate workspace at home or to have an adolescent live independently under the roof.

Zeeland’s typical black wooden barns with white casings inspired the use of colour in the project. White spots liven up the charcoal brick. The shutters and front doors are white as well, as is the underside of the roof. Eaves and drainpipes are made of zinc, and the garage doors lay hidden in a corrugated aluminium plane. Only the transparent grilles behind the shutters bear colour.

During the same construction period, starter dwellings were realized around the corner in Volkerakstraat, with floor plans that proved their worth in an earlier project, De Hooge Plaaten. To match the existing buildings, brick colours here are more subdued. All metals have a natural finish here, too.

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