Mecanoo had its first assignment after winning the competition for a youth housing project at Kruisplein, Rotterdam. The design demonstrates that urban regeneration in public housing can be achieved without compromising high architectural standards. Social housing can – no, must – also be beautiful. The city and its inhabitants should be proud of it.
The housing was not intended for the average family, instead it provides a multipurpose solution for a large group of people who do not live in a traditional family unit. The design team worked endlessly on floorplans that would provide optimal flexibility. The whole spatial organisation of the building is put together as a housing machine. The tallest building has galleries on every third floor that give access to two or three-level maisonettes.
Apartments are located on the short ends of the building. The seventh floor roof terrace offers residents views over the city. The lower, slightly curved building houses retail units on the ground floor with four levels of apartments above. The apartments are flexible by nature with neutral floor plans that allows several different interpretations.
Close attention was paid to fitting in with the existing building structure: the facade treatment, material selection, lighting and colours and even the Tree of Heaven on the square were selected with great care. The client’s firm belief in innovative ideas forged a special relationship with the architect and thereby allowed the creation of a ground breaking concept.