Buurt 9, or ‘Neighbourhood # 9’, forms part of the garden cities west of Amsterdam. These cities were built in the 1950s and ’60s to house as many people as quickly as possible. The design of the garden cities has certain distinct spatial qualities: a sequence of big parks surrounds the different neighbourhoods. However, the Buurt 9 area now requires regeneration: the quality of the buildings must be improved to meet new standards; the smaller houses are to be replaced by bigger apartments and villas to attract middle-class residents. Many of the local gardens have been covered over and are now at odds with one of the best qualities of the garden city: the spacious lawns and parks. How can the upgrading of Buurt 9 serve to highlight the negative aspects of past development? Will it be possible to add density to the area and still add space and quality to the parks? Is it possible to develop a model out of a new approach?
Manor Buurt 9 now consists of 174 standard small housing units, located in three L-shaped buildings and positioned next to a small park. The new design relocates the housing into one compact but impressive volume, and regains more space for the park. The large volume attracts attention to itself, and, more importantly, to the new neighbourhood.
The dimensions of the building are 135 m long x 34 m high x 34 m deep. These proportions are ‘mansion-like’, when seen in relation to the even more spacious park. A new ‘manor’ emerges, adding character to the park.
Park Building The programme includes five towers that are sandwiched between a deck and a series of rooftop penthouses. This creates an open and airy block, and offers different views, from all directions. The semi-public park is raised: a semi-public balcony that overlooks the park. This space is a supplement to the park, and extends it. The garden offers better protection from the rain and wind, with its more intimate spaces and safe playgrounds. This area becomes a central space for the inhabitants, an outdoor ‘living room’. This idea is accentuate by the use of soft furniture, decorative walls, ceiling and floor finishes, plants, and chandeliers.
The towers are positioned in such a way that they do not block views from the neighbourhood to the park. They also give all of the apartments in the tower a view or the park and an orientation to the sun. This is achieved by perforating the roof plate in three places. This design is repeated in the bottom plate, forming two courtyards that offer light, view and access to the apartments on the first level.
The new Buurt 9 Park Building manages to add more ‘garden’ and more ‘city’ to the changing garden cities of Amsterdam. It continues to highlight the optimistic tradition that characterizes the history of these neighbourhoods.