As Amsterdam sees itself confronted with an increasing demand for social housing due to the ongoing refugee crisis, the question arises how to house these new citizens and how to foster their integration in society. Social housing association Ymere approached us with the question to design a block with commercial plinth and 100 small apartments for starters on the housing market and holders of a refugee status in one building. The critical issue with this question is how to avoid the all too often anonymity and impersonality of mass housing and how to facilitate and promote interaction instead?

The site is situated on a prominent crossing of two main roads in the rapidly changing area of Buiksloterham in Amsterdam North. As such the building on this plot marks the entrance to this area. In a re-interpretation of the building envelope provided by the municipality, we created a stepped volume that sweeps up from ground level to nine stories height at the corner of the site. Thus allowing maximum exposure to the dun of the central courtyard. The steps in the building volume also create a series of linked terraces, one for each floor of the building, that function as programmed collective spaces for the inhabitants, offering a variety of functions as gardens, sports, BBQ etc.

The apartments have been organised around a central green courtyard that forms the central hub of the project. Instead of individual outdoor spaces we proposed to create extra wide access galeries that double as collective outdoor spaces where people can meet and interact. Small niches with a built-in bench facilitate use of this space and offer a comfortable and sheltered space for the tenants. A stepped setback accentuates the main entrance that visually links the public street with the courtyard, exposing the soft inner world that counter-balances the urban outer shell of the building.



Year: 2017

Status: work in progress

Client: Ymere

Programme: Housing

Size: 6100 m2

Budget: € 7,5 million

Renderings: MEESVISSER

Design team: Marijn Mees & Uda Visser

with: Teresa Avella, Jelmer van der Zweep, Kim Wandel

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