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Zonnehof Duivendrecht

In The Netherlands the progressive increase in ageing population causes the percentage of elderly above the age of 65 to rise from 19% to 25% in 2060. Combined with more vital lifestyles of elderly as a result of everage better health, but also an increasing number of dementing elderly, future housing demands for new concepts to provide lasting social context. In general elderly people were formerly viewed as being a group functioning apart from modern society, mainly a part of the population which had to be provided with care, ignoring their part in social contexts. For the design of housing and care centres for elderly in the past 50 years this resulted in solitary buildings with a emphasis on care and a lack of attention for social context.

Combined with a future-proof housing concept for elderly a second challenge in the Zonnehof project was to provide in a solution for the lack of social manageability of the site. It is located in the heart of the parkspace in between high-rise flats, part of the Modernist urban design of the 60’s for the Bijlmer. Because the park is overdimensioned it has proven to be difficult to maintain social control.

To adress the design challanges an infill development will be realized, scaling down the size of the park. It is programmed for diversity to be able to generate new social contexts (housing for starters / families / seniors, a primary school). This is completed with the program for the Zonnehof project, existing of a care centre / group housing for dementing, a neighbourhood community centre and apartments for independant elderly and starters on the housing market. Within this diverse program lie the possibilities to socially intertwine all residents of the neighbourhood, the present residents of the adjacent flats included.

Small-scale living is experienced as more pleasant by the residents. Instead of 1 large volume 4 human scale volumes are placed with care, connecting seamlessly to to the adjacent housing blocks. The 4 pavilions will be anchored in their surroundings while the pavilions retain their connection with the lush green environment.

The placement of the pavilions futhermore creates a central enclosed garden and a public square on the south side. The pavilions are provided with transparent connections to keep the visual relations with between the inner garden and the surroundings intact.

All public functions, including a grand café, activity room and care support rooms, are located along the square, which reinforces the cohesion between building and neighbourhood. Openness and social interaction between residents and the neighborhood are therefore central to the design. Because of the openness and location, it is possible to socially link the care centre to the adjacent school and the neighbourhood and thus develop educational programs and neighborhood initiatives. The inner garden will be programmed as a shared vegetable garden organised as a community project in coorporation with dementing, children from the school and neighbours.

The 4 buildings will have a brickwork, vivid and earthy appearance, incorporating the various components of the program, which are clearly readable in the facade. The shared living rooms form pronounced transparent elements in the facade. The individual sitting rooms / bedrooms of the group homes each are provided with an protruding window on the landscape. Spacious shared roof terraces between the blocks, on the 1st and 2nd floors form the link between both the group homes and the apartments. 

The human scale is further expressed by the fact that each block has its own entrance, color, atmosphere and identity, depending on the wishes of the multicultural residents. Residents of the independent apartments can receive care from the care centre and associated facilities if necessary. Healthcare visions are currently changing faster than the depreciation period of buildings. The concept of small scale pavilions offers a lot of flexibility in the future: each pavilion can be independently adapted to the changing wishes and requirements in healthcare. By the separation of the support structure and technical installations the complex can be adjusted relatively easily during its lifetime.

Project                      Zonnehof

Location                   Duivendrecht, NL

Program                  Care centre for dementing ( 6 x grouphousing of 7 persons  ), community centre, 20 apartments

Size                               Care centre for dementing 2.100 m², community centre 700 m², apartments 1.700 m² (gross internal area)

Client                        Zonnehuisgroep Amstelland

Design                       Architects: Dolf Langerak / Gert Jan Kruijning, part of designteam at AAARCHITECTEN

Projectpartners    Bureau Veldweg, Bouwkostenbureau Heijneman, Innax

Status                        Design competition, 1st prize, project commissioned

Site, program and volume

The site is part of an infill development situated in the heart of the park in between high-rise flats (Modernist urban design of the 60’s for the Bijlmer), to reduce the amount of public space, to regain social manageability and to fullfill the demand for housing, a school, a community centre and a care centre for dementing. Cutting up the large initial volume will create a human scale.

Optimised position volumes

Pushing the volumes apart allows sunlight to enter and lets the park flow into the space in between the volumes. The formed inner garden will be programmed as shared vegetable garden organised as a community project in cooperation with dementing, children from the adjacent school and neighbours.

Square with community centre / optimised lines of sight

A square and community centre are located in the heart of the neighbourhood to facilitate social interaction. The positions of the volumes connect seamlessly to the urban fabric and ensures optimised lines of sight.

Vivid readable facade design and transparant connections

Functions are made readable through designelements in the facade, large recessed glazed openings, protruding windows, protruding balconies and staircase lanterns. All organised in a coherent and vivid order reflecting a contemporary urban diverse community. Shared, semi-overgrown balconies form connections between the volumes which provide outdoor spaces on the first and second floors, while keeping intact the visual relationship between the inner garden and the surroundings.


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