2009 // Almere, The Netherlands
// Design Team Member
Urban-Think Tank was invited by MVRDV to design two buildings within the Olympiakwartier area of Almere as part of a larger project that includes a total of 25 design firms from Europe, America, and Japan.
For the life of the urbanite, the space in between buildings is just as important as the buildings themselves and they act together consequentially. Our proposal presents two buildings - Crack House (E4) and Court House (K8) - with the idea that if total land use is planned to achieve an optimum use at any level, then we must also consider the potential to charge all vertical, short term or transient spaces as places of importance. These spaces we have called “charged voids” are working as active parts of our project for Almere.
These inner courts or vertical cracks, become part of the technological urban context of our buildings. These cuts or courts are meant to be landscape strips making it possible for small interior spaces to appear in the interior perimeter. These common spaces themselves are finished in different glazed ceramic walls to enable a unique greenhouse interior. The voids are shaped by the unique characteristics of individual need (flower pots, mini-balconies, bridges, drying laundry, and even a potential animal habitat) to meet specific patterns of human habitation. Each exterior wall system of the apartment design will articulate these individual desires to produce a collective courtyard identity for each building.
In building E4, two planted “chandeliers” provide light and greenery to the voids while still allowing for natural light to reach the ground floor and air to move through the building. Planted with hardy vines, such as Hedera helix, these fixtures provide greenery to all levels while softly illuminating the crack in the evening.In building K8, solitary specimen trees, suited for shady compact spaces, lend a green atmosphere to the interior atmosphere. Covered by glass, this mild climate can host a colony of birds, providing a small and lush oasis for the residents of the building.
These circulation voids are also charged with technical program as to increase the exposure not just to natural light, ventilation, and views but also to accommodate necessary building system infrastructure and services. These building infrastructures are strategically placed in the void to permit future flexibility and upgrading without compromising the vertical installation shafts. The void therefore becomes a blurred boundary between exterior and interior. By comprehending the idea that humans form a community around resources, our buildings offer a living experience as part of the complex urban setting in Almere and the Dutch Randstad beyond.
Architect: Urban-Think Tank - Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner
Design Team: Michael Contento, Rajiv Fernandez, Carlos M. Guimaraes, Jose Luis León Mora, Carolina Montilla, Lea Rufenacht, Stefan Schieber, Allison Schwartz, Lindsey Sherman, Maarten Brillenburg Wurth, Floris van der Biggelaar
Landscape Architect: TOPOTEK1