Compared to common standards the plot for Groene Mient offered us a unique opportunity to create an enormous collective garden. Our challenge was to enhance this natural collectivity and to focus all new houses equally on this garden in such a way that it would not result in a subdivision into different smaller backyards. Another important design wish was that the new houses should be south orientated as much as possible given the strive for minimal energy consumption and the use of solar panels and solar collectors. By placing one of the building blocks more or less diagonally (east-west Meander) on the plot and having these houses face southwards contrarily to the original zoning scheme that required a different allotment all these wishes were met.
The three building blocks that have been proposed in the plan have been tuned in to their urban location. The Mient block situated on ‘de Mient’ street, the Meander block gently guiding pedestrians to the Northern block symbolically connecting all residents in both an organically meandering Meander block and the more contrasting straightly shaped Mient block and Northern block. Hereby all residents had their wishes fullfilled as both natural and orthogonal shapes were decribed in a program of requirements by their organization.
The warm and natural expression with which Groene Mient is embedded in the big city is also quite modern and urban in nature. By unequivocal details using just slate (Vega Verde) and wood (Douglas fir) Groene Mient manifests as a undivided whole. Yet every place is unique and easily distinguished because each house is different in shape. As from scratch the residents were all separate developing commissioners organized in a CPO (Collective Private commissioners Organization) these differences were an obvious result.
By combining two natural materials of different texture and orientation in the elevations the impression is suggested that some parts of a larger stony shape have been cut away to expose a warmer, soft internal (wooden) body. As if a fourth dimension is added, a dimension of time, that the residents have used to reshape their personal spot. A process that in fact may continue over time as they will add new extentions to their houses. This way the architecture is a tool for this community to shape a rough piece of slate Vega Verde (which in spanish means ‘Groene Mient’, green pasture) and also a small piece of the city into its most appropriate form to them.