LocationSittard, The Netherlands
PhotographsJean Simons Maastricht & Willem Verhaegh Sittard
From the architect. The historic city walls of the town Sittard and the former field of fire outside of them remained largely intact on this side of the city. The field of fire, containing walled gardens and land of the adjacent monastery, enabled a distant view of the historic centre. In the fifties however, a school, single housing and a colossal housing block were build in this field.
In 2003 a development started to restore the historic field of fire to its former empty state. A municipal park will be established in this zone, on the edge of which a series of U-shaped blocks will be built. The colossal housing block, the Odapark block of flats, was to be part of this locality.
The brief was a renovation project for this residential building and a social centre for senior citizens at completion consisting of 107 renovations, 45 extensions, and 28 new houses in the council housing sector.
We realized from the start that we would not be able to completely eliminate the ponderous character of the Odapark flats. The rough and somewhat crude nature of the existing building is part of its very essence and can never be completely eliminated in the council housing sector. Accordingly, we have not attempted to disguise the past or refashion it. The old and the new will each continue to display some of their individual and somewhat stubborn nature.
The ‘Zo Wonen’ building association, which is one of the participants in whole development, wished to make a positive contribution by renovating its council housing units. Because the block of flats to be retained also impacted the visual rhythm of the future city blocks, the existing block also needed to be modified to be in line with the overall project. To realize this, six residential units had to be removed from the top of the present diagonal wing. At the other corner, where the social centre first stood, a new residential wing has been added. The new ‘Oos Zittesj Hoes’ centre is literally moving towards the building centre.
The black outer wall section added to the Odapark block of flats includes the extension of the existing residential units as well as the new extended wing, with a single overall design being used for the entire façade. The height of the building extension zone was determined within the framework of the urban redevelopment agreements reached in workshops, enabling the supervisor to monitor and manage the heights of the future residential blocks.
The existing block is composed by a repetition of one housing-type. By continuing this repetition with a grid of half of the housing width, the rhythm of the housing units disappears and the scale of the total building transforms. With the black outer wall section an attempt was made for a refinement in scale, materialization and color in contrast with the existing building. The existing block was painted white to soften its building mass, but moreover to ease the contrast with the existing white plastic window frames, for whom there was no budget to replace them. With these actions, in combination with a new passageway through the old building block and an elevated garden the large building mass was made to connect to the smaller scale of the surrounding buildings and the new park.
Upon their return, the residents were given the option of returning to their own unit or choosing a unit from a more extensive range of residential offerings. The design of the new façade, the transition between indoors and outdoors with a winter patio, outdoor balcony and a good view of the street all aim to increase the quality of life of the older residents.