(foto 1 van 8)
The location of the project Westenhage lies between Voorsterweg and the Hasselterweg. Not so long ago, this place was the edge of Westenholte. Beginning in 1995, a new expansion area of Zwolle, called Stadshagen, was realized on the north side of the Hasselterweg. This district now has over 20,000 residents and is set to grow to 30,000, thereby already making it much larger than the village Westenholte with its approximately 5,000 inhabitants.
In 2006, following an architect selection procedure, we started designing the buildings. The request of “Driezorg” was to design apartments for senior citizens which facilitated their possible need for care. It was clear from the beginning that there was a demand for such apartments in the Westenholte commu-nity.
The position of the building plot, on the edge of Westenholte and along the busy throughway Hasselter-weg, which forms the boundary of Stadshagen, offered an urban planning opportunity to design buildings which could connect Westenholte and Stadshagen with one another. The buildings themselves could form a link between the village and the new town. In line with this urban planning theme, the buildings were given two faces: one which echoed the traditional village form, while the other reflected the design of the modern city, as well as forming the view from the perspective of passing cars.
Another important factor for the urban layout of the buildings was the level of noise exposure of the homes facing the traffic of the Hasselterweg. This is why one of the two buildings was placed as a “hook” around the second building. In this way, each building functions as a noise barrier for the other. In addition, the placement of the two buildings creates an intimate outdoor space between the buildings, a kind of village square.
The building on the side of Westenholte has a carré, or square shape, and comprises 44 houses. The ground floor of this building does not provide any residential housing. Instead, it serves as accommoda-tion for a doctor’s practice, a pharmacy, a physical therapist and the services and activity centre of “Driezorg”. In order to allow this building to optimally respond to its village-like setting, we added
large mansard-caps to the four corners of the carré. These caps are three storeys high and can be seen as narrative elements that seek to connect with the village style of building. In spite of the fact that the main part of the building has a flat roof, these caps give the building a powerful appearance, whereby they dominate over the flat portions.
The building along the Hasselterweg comprises 48 houses. On the side of the road it has a gallery which is fully glazed to protect the houses against noise. This sound barrier, along with the flat roofs, gives the building on the side of Stadshagen a scale and contemporary expression that suits a view from the car.
Brick was chosen as the material for the façade of both buildings – one stone with a gorgeous purple-red colour and a large size ( “double Waal”) together with a white engobed brick, with single “Waal” dimensions. The large purple-red stone suits the tough scale of the buildings, and its colour matches the style of both the village and the city. The white stone adds a graphical nuance of the scale of the apartment buildings. For the caps we chose a traditional ceramic anthracite tile.
All the apartments are two-bedroom social rent houses, each with a net living area of about 80 m2. All comply with criteria set by Woonkeur. The apartments on the Hasselterweg have a floor plan that situates the living room facing the courtyard and a dining space along the gallery wall. In this way, both ‘fronts’ of the house are pleasing living spaces, since either side yields a completely different yet equal-ly attractive view. The carré-shaped building contains apartments with living rooms on the “outer wall”, stretching along the full width of the house. The bedrooms are located on the inner side of the shape. Naturally, the buildings are fully equipped with lifts and extra wide galleries.
A great deal of attention was also given to the design of the area around the buildings: between the buildings there is a “wadi” with moisture-loving plants. The surface water from the pavements is di-rected into this wadi, a process which is visually emphasised with a coloured design in the pavements.
These contextual buildings form a connection within the urban fabric between the modern city of Zwolle and the village Westenholte and are thus of importance in terms of urban planning. These buildings are exemplary of the idea that the essence of architecture is not just about applying original forms.