A sustainable social development
Location: Groningen, Netherlands
Client: Nijestee Vastgoed
Programme:43 apartments, 51 maisonettes,100 m2 commercial-space
The Grunobuurt is a neighbourhood originally built in the 1920’s for railway workers. Many of the existing houses had reached the end of their lifespan, providing the opportunity to regenerate the neighbourhood with dwellings built to modern construction and energy standards. The main characteristic feature of the attractive existing dwellings is the uniform brickwork with details in relief. This motif forms the basis of the architectural expression of the new buildings. Other existing qualities, such as the unity of the neighbourhood and the high-quality green spaces, form key elements of the urban plan by de Zwarte Hond.
The client Nijestee, a housing association, was looking for an ambitious sustainable development. The dwellings have underfloor heating and cooling, using a heat pump in combination with balanced ventilation. The dwellings are also highly insulated, U-values of <0.25 for the facades and <0.2 for the floors and roofs. ‘Simple quality’ has been the architectural response to the tight budget combined with an ambitious urban plan. This is visible for example in the fenestration – a simple but generous window forming the basis of the façade composition. Exceptions to this simplicity are reserved for where the building meets the public realm and reacts to the townscape; entrances, principal corners, and the ground floors receive a richer detailing, the brickwork pattern intensifying in these locations.
Social and programmatic diversification is also a key element of the sustainability agenda. A diverse range of dwelling types; apartments and duplexes, both in the private and affordable sectors have been accommodated in the simple building forms. In discussion with the residents’ association, it has been possible to create communal terraces on the roofs. Other elements of the crucial relationships between public, semi-public, semi-private and private have been handled with care – from the generous green defensible zones to the design of balcony screens. The ventilation of the car park has been integrated into oversized furniture elements performing multiple roles.