Status: Competition (2020)
Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Climate: Temperate, Oceanic / maritime
Types: Housing, Institutional, Refurbishment, Residential, Technical center
Working garden is a speculative project, proposing the transformation of a collection of partially vacant, monofunctional office areas scattered in the Randstad metropolitan area into a network of multifunctional productive campuses.
The project starts as a response to the current situation of the Dutch urban development. The current model of urban development is market driven and highly tailored for the needs of a stereotypical “nuclear unit” of the society, a family in a traditional, rather narrow understanding. As such, it does not offer significant diversity, and does not provide viable alternatives for large groups of society: singles, including single parents, elderly, multigenerational families, etc. Additionally, there is little incentive to provide spaces for developing communities on a level different from an individual family, which results in individualisation.
According to municipal estimates, the area of Randstad (metropolitan area in the centre of Netherlands) faces a housing shortage, reaching more than one hundred thousand units. At the same time, according to some estimates, even up to twenty percent of office space in suburban areas remains vacant. Taking into account urgent climatic crises we are currently facing and given the significant influence of the construction industry in the greenhouse gases production, it is crucial to develop ways of reusing existing building stock as a sustainable alternative of providing new housing units. At the same time, it is necessary to provide spatial and technological solutions, which facilitates living in a sustainable way for the inhabitants.
Suggested solution assumes creation of a network of productive campuses which can be compared to modern monasteries, gathering people interested in alternative, sustainable and communal ways of living and working. The first stage of the project is a research focused on gathering information of the existing office park locations and creation of a potential interaction network. To develop architectural strategies and form tangible environments for collective living, four locations are selected for creation of different projects: innovation hub, exchange campus, knowledge hub and family campus.
Each project is designated for a different target group and located in a different area and therefore has different distribution and atmosphere. Together, the selected locations represent a collection of common conditions characterising the existing, vacant office parks, such as suburban location, proximity to infrastructure and environmental pressure. At the same time, each site represents one of the frequently occurring typologies, allowing to transpose developed strategies onto different locations.
Developed with a specific context in mind, each project has a particular relation to its surrounding – at the same time providing secluded spaces dedicated to focus and open, engaging spaces dedicated to exchange of products, services and knowledge with a surrounding city.
Buildings currently present on the plot are used in a twofold way. On a basic level they provide an affordable floor area allowing for provision of generous shared spaces. Additionally, their typology provides a starting point and informs the design strategy which aims to overturn existing typological distribution to create a new layout. As a result each project is a combination of existing building and new additions.
The spatial configuration is then filled with four programmatic layers: housing, workshops, productive landscape and leisure areas. Positioning, accessibility, scale and character of each programmatic area depends on the location of the specific project, in each case however creating an exciting juxtaposition of existing and new; housing and productive areas distributed in a gradient of public, communal and private spaces.
To propose an alternative model for current urban development, the project searches for inspiration in a long Dutch tradition of seeing work as a collective effort and typologies organically developed for collective housing and community building. Reimagining these models which combine housing with spaces dedicated to productive and collective activities, allows for a redefinition of the relation between living and working in a broader context of sustainability and economic networks.