Behaaglijk Wonen

New Elan for neighbourhoods of the ’70′s and ’80′s – De Driften, Nieuwegein, Netherlands

Competition 2011, Nominated

In collaboration with MoederscheimMoonen Architects and Mattijs van Ruijven

For: Mitros and The Netherlands Architecture Fund

Neighbourhoods like De Driften, the so-called ‘cauliflower neighbourhoods’, face the task to catch up with the 21st century on the level of urban design and living qualities. Essential is an increase of value for the area as well as real estate. In correspondence with the development of facilities which fit to the differentiation of our present time, it should become feasible again for residents to invest in their environment. A broadly developed plan is not only a fysical improvement, but can stimulate a local awareness which results in a more profound social cohesion.
We consider the spatial aspect as one of the most fundamental questions in the brief, because from conversations with the residents and our observations it became clear that too many indifferent places block a connection between housing and neighbourhood, rendering the relation between resident and habitat distant. Residents call for more social coherence and ‘neighbourhood feel’.

To find a solution we found inspiration in the garden city, in it’s principles of defining domains and creating a more rural character. These principles show a lot of comparisons with the ideologies in urban planning of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s: small scale housing, individuality within collectivity, green embedding and larger green communal zones. Our opinion is that these aspects can be united and will strengthen the character of ‘cauliflower neighbourhoods’.
The organisation of De Driften leads to a devision in fragments framing the public and private domain. A new layer is introduced which we call ‘sub-neighbourhoods’. It’s lay-out is derived from the existing fabric and seems to fall in it’s place almost naturally, although it creates a complete different image.

Our vision emphasizes on redefining these sub-neighbourhoods within the whole plan. All separate housing blocks are grouped with an own identity, thus restoring the original idiom of the ‘cauliflower neighbourhood’: individuality within collectivity.
The new lay-out is framed by hedges and more prominent plinths of the houses. The sub-neighbourhoods strategy implements parking spaces, backsides and blind walls, and left-overs of space. To increase the quality of the public domain, as much space is privatised to increase the responsibility for the residents and to decrease the maintenance pressure for the municipality. Instead of continuing with the current amount of undetermined space, we prefer to focus on, and invest in, a few well designed points of interest which have much more impact on the recognisability of the neighbourhood.