Wozoco housing apartments . Amsterdam-Osdorp

MVRDV . photos: © Wojtek Gurak . © asli aydin . plans: journey for architecture

This building was the first large complex realized by MVRDV.

01 above photos © Wojtek Gurak

 above photos © asli aydin

The client, a large housing corporation, had made general studies of the arrangement of 100 units for elderly people, as part of intensifying a 60's neighborhood. They wanted to have a gallery-type circulation but were not able to fit in the units in acceptable way. So we were invited to solve the problem.
At our first meeting, one model drew attention. It was a half jokingly attempt, where we glued the houses that would not fit inside the gallery block to the other side of the volume.
The client immediately understood the potential, and we got 3 weeks to 'make it work', in terms of budget. Together with a creative quantity surveyor and a structural engineer, we were able to produce a budget analysis that did not exceed their limit, and we could continue with the project.

The official explanation is as follows:
"To still provide adequate sunlight into the surrounding buildings only 87 of the 100 units could be realized within the slab. Where could the remaining 13 dwellings be positioned? If they were put elsewhere on the site, the open space would be further reduced. A deeper slab with narrower units did not seem possible. The North-South orientation of the block meant that the generator had to be a 7.20 meter module. By cantilevering the remaining 13 units from the north façade, they are literally suspended in the air. The hanging East-West orientated types complete the North-South dwellings in the block with a view over the adjacent polder. An economic layout for the main slab could lead to savings of 7 to 8% of the cost, enough to compensate for the 50% more expensive ‘hanging units’. The Spartan gallery flat becomes acceptable. Each gallery is given a different perspective. By changing window positions, balcony sizes and varying balcony materials, the different flats acquire their own character. With the party walls constructed 8 cm thicker than structurally necessary (for sound insulation) it became possible to use this extra thickness for the connection of the cantilever trusses without having to increase the weight of the load-bearing walls."

When the project was completed, we were told, that we had realized the social housing project with the lowest building-costs in Amsterdam (applause). This was the result of inexperience. Nowadays we would have told the client that he should increase his budget, but as an young architect we just did in for the budget they gave us.
Almost 10 years later, averagely 2-3 touring-cars and numerous taxi's and rent-a-bikes with architectural tourist now visit the outskirts of the so called western garden cities to see the hanging houses of Amsterdam.

Winy Maas, Jocob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with
Willem Timmer, Arjan Mulder, Frans de Witte

Building advisors: Bureau Bouwkunde, Rotterdam
Structure: Pieters Bouwtechniek, Haarlem
Building physics: DGMR, Arnhem
Contractor: Intervam, Amsterdam

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