Love thy neighbour

15 Jun 2011

Möhn + Bouman presents monochromatic communal residence for mentally disabled residents in Zoetermeer, Netherlands

This two-storey housing block for 24 mentally disabled residents is built within an existing neighbourhood. Here, 12 people live in 2 groups, and 12 people in an autonomous unit, all supported by medical facilities and a small team of caregivers.

It is the client’s strong intention to integrate diabled people as much as possible within society. Much effort has been put into creating social acceptance of this group within their new neighbourhood, which succeeded thanks to close involvement of client, neighbours and a sensible building contractor. To keep and further enhance acceptance, interaction of the residents towards the neighbourhood have to be controlled; on the other hand the vulnerable inhabitants need a level of privacy.

As a key issue of the design by architects Möhn + Bouman, the interaction of the building and its inhabitants with the environment is regulated by a white concrete platform, densely planted with a screen of birch trees.It is surrounding the building and its backgarden. In summer the trees provide shade, in winter they lose their leaves, allowing more light to penetrate the building. The building itself is clad with black concrete elements. With its vertical structure and integrated raw white stone blocks, this facade acts as a diapositive background for the screen of trees, loosely inspired on Ansel Adams’ Aspen photographs.

At the corner of the building the white platform is lifted to introduce a large, completely open corner, interacting with the surrounding public space. Here a large social meeting- and dining room is dominant along with supporting facilities. The main entrance is positioned here, right at the fold of the concrete platform. To guide people inward, the fold is extented as a twisting wall, leading towards an organically shaped connection to an atrium on the first floor, which gives access to the autonomous dwellings and a roof terrace above the entrance.

Key Facts


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