Architects: Casanova + Hernandez Architects
Location: Beekbergen, The Netherlands
Architects in charge: Helena Casanova y Jesus Hernandez
Area: 4100.0 sqm
Project Year: 2007
Photographs: Christian Richters, John Lewis Marshall, Courtesy of Casanova + Hernandez Architects
From the architect. Ginkgo project combines art, technology and architecture to integrate a housing complex in the nature of the existing park located in front.
CONTEXT AND PROGRAM
The project is located near the natural park of Veluwe in the Netherlands with views over an old church and the central park of the small town.
The urban structure of Beekbergen, as many other small towns of the Netherlands, is composed mainly by large single family houses that are not affordable for young people and not suitable for older people with mobility problems.
'Ginkgo' project explores the possibilities of providing affordable housing for different target groups thanks to a compact housing complex, physically and visually integrated in its context.
The site is an interesting space located in between two zones with very different character: the green area of the park on one side and the urban area of a post-war neighborhood built in the 50's on the other side.
The program consists of apartments to sell, basically for starters and +65 people and park-houses to rent.
The project is based on a careful dialogue between two skins that give answer to the border conditions on both sides of the location:
1. The “Green Skin”
The transparency of the facade facing the park, the long balconies of the apartment block and the generous terraces of the park-houses integrate the dwellings visually and physically in the park.
The glazed facade has been specially designed with a print of ginkgo tree leaves of different green and yellow tones that react to the constant changing light of the sky creating very special effects, reflections, shadows and silhouettes, depending on the time of the day and the season of the year.
On one hand it brings privacy to the balconies and terraces. On the other hand it allows visual connection between the open spaces and the park.
Almost each printed panel of the facade is unique in order to avoid visual repetition creating a natural and organic continuous image of vegetation that wraps the whole facade.
The printed glazed facade works as a virtual green facade that integrates the building into the greenery of the park and reduces its physical impact in the surroundings, thus giving to the building an iconic image of lightness and immateriality.
2 The “Urban Skin”
This skin wraps the building in front of the existing urban side and relates it to its context. The use of brick gives a more massive appearance to the building on this side and helps the project to establish a dialogue with the post-war buildings in the neighborhood in terms of materialization and rhythm and size of the openings.
THE APARTMENT BLOCK
The apartment block is a compact building created by several concentric functional rings.
The vertical circulation core in the center of the block is surrounded by a first ring of collective circulation that gives accesses to the apartments.
The second ring concentrates all the required services of the apartments (toilets, bathrooms, kitchens, storage and installation shafts) in order to create a continuous free space in the third ring where the living areas of the house are placed.
The third ring is a flexible space that can be divided into many ways to offer different layouts for different ways of living.
The housing types can vary from a spacious loft to a three-room apartment.
The fourth ring is created by the outdoor spaces of the houses, which are long panoramic balconies surrounding the apartments facing the park and individual balconies that bring random rhythm to the facade facing the urban side.
THE PARK HOUSES
The park-houses are designed with an extra large terrace in the upper level with views over the park. On ground floor the large glazed facade connects visually the living room with the park. A relatively small terrace on this level is only separated from the park by a small slope that invites the users to use the park as their own back garden.
The park houses are designed in a way that maximum transparency and open relation with the existing park is guaranteed. The separation between the private terrace in front of the house and the park is defined only by the pavement of the terrace, thus providing a very open relation between living room - private terrace - park.
A semi-buried parking that covers the parking necessities for the whole complex is hidden behind a small hill that also guarantees privacy within the park houses in a natural way.