Moerwijk Hofjes-
transforming a postwar housing block in regards to its privacy zoning

Master Thesis, TU Delft, 2012-2013

This project is the outcome of my Master graduation year at TU Delft and has been nominated for the national Archiprix Netherlands. From February 10th until March 10th it can be viewed at the Architecture Faculty of TU Delft in the context of the touring National Archiprix exposition 2014.

The graduation project was carried out at the studio of the chair Restoration, Modification, Intervention and Transformation (®MIT), which dealt with complex social issues and degeneration processes of The Hague South West. My graduation project in particular aims at improving the quality of the numerous collective, semi-private green spaces and its adjoining dwellings.

The municipality is ambitious regarding the development of its existing neighbourhoods. However due to financial crisis, many projects for new construction are put on hold and corporations are now looking for new strategies and innovative solutions. To generate synergies and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, one of The Hague’s biggest housing corporation Staedion and representatives of the municipality of The Hague are involved in the project.

The graduation year is divided in three phases: In depth research on a chosen topic in the first quarter, preliminary design in the second quarter and design development and detailed design in semester two.

During first site visits a number of problems became evident: A lack of identification and participation due to a high fluctuation of tenants had over time lead to physical and social decay of the collective gardens and its enclosing housing blocks. On the one hand the generally small apartments had failed to adapt to demographic changes and new living standards. On the other hand a lack of privacy zoning, unclear borders of ownership and poor accessibility of the collective green spaces had compromised the dwellings' potential during the past decades. But which architectural tools could possibly alter the transition of public and private in such a way, that identification and participation with the collective garden and the surrounding housing blocks was improved?

In order to understand the definitions of public and private space in Moerwijk I looked at its relationship on an urban scale first. In depth research on the makers of Moerwijk gave me hints about their intentions and ideas of how the neighbourhood was planned to function. I studied their plans in archives and conducted interviews with the municipality, tenants and neighbourhood organisations. The result was an overview over Moerwijk’s development as a whole from the very beginning until today. With the help of a case study I researched the transition between public and private on an architectural level more in depth. The housing block was analysed regarding scale, accessibility and social aspects, all on an urban, architectural and material level. The case study then became the location for my intervention.

To revitalise the abandoned collective green space and to increase the liveability for the adjoining flats, my design follows four simple steps as a result of the analysis:
1) restoring the direct access to the garden that had been nullified over time
2) extending the living space of each unit with a lively function towards the garden, thus creating a buffer zone between private and semi private
3) closing the open housing blocks with a spatial element that provides enough privacy while maintaining insights into the green
4) connecting the opposing blocks with a spatial element, a communal area, that divides the long stretched garden into more intimate zones and restores the architectural coherence between the two blocks that had been lost over time.

To learn more about the project, please view the official archiprix publication designed by the talented Rachel Sender.

Photo by Rachel Sender
collective garden 1955   © Haas, K.J. de; on Beeldbank Haags Gemeentearchief
collective garden 2012
collective garden 2020?
street view Anna Bijnslaan
Scenario Café
model infill
the garden infill
stop motion model infill
back to top    |    Index