A vacant lot on the outskirts of the Dutch city of Apeldoorn was the site of this housing estate for about 50 homes, a project by the Wiel Arets practice, winner of a competition held in 2000.
Situated close to a major road, the programme comprises an outer circle of houses in conjunction with two parallel internal roads that leaves a central green area for communal use. Housing typologies and their arrangement are deliberately varied: semi-detached, detached, single family and compact row houses. In this way, the architects acknowledge contemporary lifestyles and its mix of social and individual requirements. As a statement of unity within diversity, the programme provides a residential ensemble with clearly identifiable common characteristics but where each private dwelling has subtle individual differences and specificities. It is architecture that responds generously to the needs of its users.
The overall layout of the complex reflects the different ways each unit relates to the whole. By keeping vehicle traffic largely on the outside of the compound, the inner area becomes a protected pedestrian precinct. Set in gardens front and back, each house or group of houses nonetheless relates to the central communal green. Planted with trees and crossed by paved paths, this central park has the quiet and reserve of a convent cloister. The buildings echo this theme, their common features confirming the name “Kloostertuin”, literally convent garden, given to the complex. The roofs are especially characteristic. Oblique lines combine with steep pitches and upward turning overhangs that break up the profile of aligned volumes. As well as protecting the façade from the rain, these singular overhangs are distinguishing features in a repetitive structure. The slate and stone cladding of façades and roofs help to create a unified whole yet offer surface hues that change with the light from dark to white.
Variety is maintained by different windows sizes for the different housing type, and different floor plans (rectangular for the row houses and variegated for the semi-detached and detached units). A central longitudinal staircase, however, remains a common feature of all the housing types.