Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Prisma in Groningen, The Netherlands by NL Architects, Pieter Bannenberg, Walter van Dijk and Kamiel Klaasse
March 17th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
It is surprising that in a miraculously flat country like the Netherlands only so few towers emerge. The potential of the unobstructed view -as one of the main topics in Dutch painting- is in housing under developed. There seems to be a collective fear of elevators. (Which maybe explains the success of the Dutch movie Down -originally ‘De Lift’). Prisma takes the view – one of the most glamorous properties of dwelling- as starting point in combination with outdoor space.
Prisma is a housing project for 52 apartments in a total of 16 stories and some additional facilities in the city of Groningen. A block of 50 meters high can in the Netherlands already be considered high. Groningen is renowned for its progressive architecture. The North West area is called Vinkhuizen. It is a typical CIAM based post war development; a mixture of middle high apartments in an open layout and some semi-high rises. A lot of greenery and a lot of public space and a lot of parking. Still the area is not particular popular at the moment. Much of the housing is no longer considered fit for the 21st century. Prisma is part of the nationwide, large-scale renovation operation that now is underway in the Netherlands.
The building consists of a simple stacking of the desired apartment types. The largest are below, the smaller ones on top: a weirdly proportioned Maya pyramid. The contour reminiscent of the archetype of the high rise: in a way comparable to the Manhattan zoning. This rational structure serves as the backbone for a more frivolous addition. The balconies are draped around the structure almost like couture. As a first act the corners of the stepped volume are connected. The surplus of balcony that emerges as a consequence now is excavated. We took as point of departure that per category of apartments the balconies should be the same size. But the proportions change depending on the position in the block. Since from top to bottom the dept of the terraces increases, the width has to diminish. So from relatively wide and shallow, they develop to more slim and deep. The block appears as one, a single gesture but at the level of the dwelling there is differentiation, form apartment to apartment the outdoors space is unique and individual.
The building will basically attract active elderly that hopefully will be able to spend the rest of their lives there. At ground level there is a nursery and children’s playground and medical facility. The entrance of these facilities and the apartments are combined in an attempt to enhance the regular dimensions that are quite limited.
Contact NL Architects, Pieter Bannenberg, Walter van Dijk and Kamiel Klaasse
Category: Housing Development
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