Community versus individuality: within post-war urbanism
Amsterdam Osdorp was built in the 1960ties and is since a few years in a process of urban renewal. The ambition of the program is to create a bigger variety of more individual housing types serving the middle class. Big parts of the existing building structures with mostly small apartments are demolished and replaced by bigger, more contemporary homes. One of the important questions that arose during the process is how to deal with the urban and architectural heritage of post-war modernism.
The building project is situated in the southern part of the “Masterplan Zuidwest-Kwadrant”. The plan is developed and supervised by the De Nijl - a Rotterdam based firm for urban planning and architecture. Ambition of the master plan is to maintain the typical wide urban street profiles and the green collective courtyards by integrating parking garages under the new buildings.
The building project takes the very relaxed urban setting as direct starting point for the organisation of the houses and tries to find a convincing solution for the parking. The result is a prototypical housing project that supports the more collective scale of Amsterdam Osdorp without suppressing the individual expression of the single homes. Traditional values of modernism get a new interpretation and more contemporary forms of living are stimulated.
Down-to-earth architecture: Economic strategy
The building budget is with 850 € / m2 corresponding to the normal Dutch standard and is relatively limited for Amsterdam conditions. To create a good starting point for the materialisation the following strategy is forming the basis for the design. The span of the town houses is reduced to an acceptable minimum of 4,80m. By doing so the façade surface is in comparison to the standard 20% less. The plan is with a size of 12,50m ca. 30% deeper than the standard. Inside the house a lot of “cheap square meters” are produced and good conditions for energy efficiency are created. The produced spatial confinement is compensated by introduction of a complete glass façade and a double high living room.
The necessary parking garage is not built under ground but at ground level to avoid waterproof concrete constructions and mechanical ventilation. The garage is realised as a cost-effective steel construction and put in front of the concrete construction of the town houses. The roof of the garage is used for private terraces.
Drive-in home: prototypical typology
Within the created basis a search is started for an optimum organisation of the house. The living room continues over two levels and is on both sides related to a specific outside space.
The house is accessed from the west side through a front garden with a depth of 6 meters. The garden is surrounded by hedges but has a more public character stimulating the personal contact among the inhabitants. The double high kitchen-cum-living room is directly related to the front garden but also accessed through the private parking garage. An open stair connects the space with the living room on the first floor that is flooded by light from two sides. The living room is protected from views from out the public space by a closed balustrade and is related to an intimate private terrace of 30m2 offering a nice view on the green courtyard.
The second floor is used for sleeping and working rooms. Partitions are movable and allow a variety of spatial organisations. An optional roof space on the third floor is offered during the selling procedure to the future inhabitants.
Informal lightness and dematerialized collage: materialisation
The use of materials is relatively unpretentious and tries to support a more contemporary lightness of living. The inside spaces are extended towards the outside by big glass windows from floor to sealing. Therefore the town house project has no façade in the classical sense but presents itself as skeleton demonstrating the construction. Within the skeleton – behind the glass – the living is exhibited towards the public space. The glass façade is made of slightly reflecting sun protection glass guaranteeing climate comfort through the year without extra outside sunscreens. To save space the entrance door is realised as a special designed sliding door.
The courtyard façade is dominated at the ground floor by the parking garage with an open metal mesh as façade system. In the future the mesh will be grown with ivy. The terraces on top of the garage are separated from each other by synthetic light-transmissive screens. The actual façade of the houses has big windows as well but is partly closed with a façade system of corrugated metal sheets. The same system is used for the head facades.
The interior design is very modest. Corridors are avoided to be able to save space. The stairs are directly positioned into the living room. Very economic standard stairs are used but covered by a special designed balustrade to integrate them into the total composition of the houses.
For economic reasons the project is constructed out of an efficient collage of different building materials and technologies like concrete- and steel construction; aluminium- and wood windows; steel-, aluminium- and wooden doors and different synthetic materials. To create a quiet general impression for the building and to let dominate the space above the material all building elements are coated in RAL 9010. The housing estate gets optically dematerialized and presents itself as a classical white structure forming a perfect background for the living spaces. For this background the IKEA generation gets the opportunity to realise their dreams of a free and light way of living.
This project is presenting a counter pole against the New urbanism movement that is at the moment very dominant in the Netherlands. The project is not the result of sentimental ideas about historic forms but a consequent result of the inner organisation of the living spaces.
Also the prejudices against contemporary architecture are to prove wrong. Modern architecture has not to be more expensive than a more traditional way of building. Good modern architecture is also easy to sell – all houses have been sold within the very short period of just 2 weeks.