Geuzenveld Zuid, Amsterdam, Holland- 2003
Competition Entry for Europan 7 for 515 housing units within the Western Garden Cities of Amsterdam.
The traditional model of suburban living: detached or row houses within gardens, cannot be accommodated within the limited Geuzenveld Zuid territory. The demands for family housing in this case require an alternative mode of operation- one that allows for a higher density than suburban sprawl, but without the loss of openness and generosity of gardens that the traditional model provides.
Existing linear blocks within the site offer light, greenness and views to open areas. However their pattern is spatially monotonous and suffers from under utilised common space. Private gardens are limited, public gardens are fenced off. The proposal looks towards green space as an initial standpoint, choosing to introduce a low yet dense framework of dwellings which each provide gardens for their inhabitants yet retaining a ‘collective’ green space to be enjoyed by all residents.
By parcelling ground and deploying ownership, each individual is given the opportunity to inhabit open space in their own way: diversity is inherent. A patchwork of gardens- elevated terraces connected directly from the accommodation beneath, become a reflection of the diversity of lifestyle, occupations and inhabitation of each dwelling.
Courtyard Spaces are carved out from the low blocks created, to allow secure access to all new low-rise units from street level. These in-between spaces are based around existing trees, therefore providing shaded environments. Courts provide more intimate neighbourhood environments, clustering several units around a unified space defined through their shared usage and access. These interactions differ in pattern to those occurring on the roof garden surface, which are instead defined by visual proximity and adjacency.
By stacking open space on top of dwellings and shifting parking spaces beneath at given intervals, ground level dwellings can still maintain reasonable levels of density. The resultant configuration compresses units around cavities that allow access and lighting, also provided from above. The roofscape becomes a liminal territory with discrete access, creating new relations and hierarchies with living spaces beneath.
Existing green and recreational spaces within the site perimeter are under-used, under-utilised and undervalued. The current common ownership of green space leads to poor maintenance and an inconsistent quality of environment.
Parcelling of the collective green space still allows ‘light, space and air’ the original objectives of the Western Garden Cities. Introducing ownership encourages diversity of occupation and the differing reflection of lifestyles of residents. ‘Allotments’ of green space which are elevated from street level are secure and offer more diverse connectivity between gardens than typical row houses through their increased level of adjacency.
The patchwork construct is an architectural vehicle revealing a condition of continuous variation. Open valleys between blocks create a perceptibly random expanse of interlocking territories. A heterogeneous mixture of colours, textures, planting, surfaces and furnishing of territories is continually produced and reproduced.