Plan Documentation

Plan Documentation Housing the Student

The plan documentation for this tenth edition of DASH includes ten examples of student housing projects that have actually been built. Spread across Europe and North America, the projects give a panoramic overview of models for student housing that have been developed over the past 500 years. The architecture of the student dwelling has a rich and dynamic history, and the selection shows a number of projects that illustrate the most important traditions and innovations.

St John’s College in Cambridge exemplifies the college, developed in the Middle Ages: a collective residential building for teachers and students. The residents share a set of communal facilities, the most important of which are the dining room, library and chapel. This type of construction is known from the old British university cities, but can also be found on the continent. In the 500 years since its founding, St John’s College has been expanded again and again; it demonstrates how the residential units in the college have developed over the course of time.

The Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid exemplifies the student house of the twentieth-century: a rationally designed accommodation building with a linear repetition of identical rooms, without any extensive collective programme. The first Dutch example of housing built specifically for students is the Collège néerlandais in Paris. The design harkens back to the past: with its courtyard shape and community facilities, the building follows the college model rather literally.

The explosive growth of universities in Europe and North America after the Second World War led to many student housing projects, and several special experiments can be found in this abundance. In the patio student residences on the first Dutch campus in Twente, units are clustered around collective patios, forming a unique ‘mat-building’ in terms of landscape. In the Maison d’Iran in Paris, the expression of the construction is the crucial starting point. Box-shaped volumes that contain the simple main design of corridors with repeating units are hung on colossal and visible steel portals. The space that remains under and between the volumes is used for collective functions.

Interesting experiments have also taken place in traditional university towns, where distinctly modernist architecture has been embedded in the historical buildings. The Cripps Building, an extension of St John’s College in Cambridge, and the Morse and Stiles Colleges for Yale University in New Haven are virtuoso examples of this. Meandering and curved volumes, built up of rooms that are clustered around portico stairwells, attempt to fit into the existing spatial structures.

Much like in the regular housing industry, the large-scale approach dominated over the smaller-scale, individual approach to student housing in the 1970s. The large student housing complex called Hoogveldt, in Nijmegen, is a typical example of the large and often anonymous complexes that arose in the Dutch university towns, in which repeating clusters of student rooms shared a communal bathroom and kitchen with dining area.

From the new boom in student housing projects that were built during the last two decades, two examples have been chosen that show the new forms of housing. The Svartlamoen project in Trondheim introduces a striking informality in a small residential building for students and young people. The collective housing programme dominates, and the student rooms have been minimized almost to the point of being closets in a large communal space. A greater contrast between this building and the Anna van Bueren Toren in The Hague is almost unthinkable. In a single building, this latter example in the plan documentation combines the classrooms of Leiden University’s bachelor-degree programme with the residences of the students who study there. In terms of appearance, the building fits into the anonymous office and apartment complexes that surround it, and only reveals its special function after being entered.

To make the plans transparent and comparable, the projects have been redrawn in a uniform drawing style. First, the urban-planning design of the project has been drawn in a broader context. In a more detailed site plan of the ground level, the connection between the living space, the collective indoor and outdoor spaces, and the public space has been visualized (in the typical way that DASH does this). For each plan, the most characteristic floors have been drawn in their entirety, with one or more cross sections. The exception here is St John’s College, for which only the complex of courtyards at ground level has been drawn.

The drawings are based on archival and published material taken from the time when the project was built. For St John’s College, the drawings were based on the drawings in the Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Cambridge, published by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.

For the majority of these projects, new DASH photo reportages have been created. For the College néerlandais, which is currently being renovated, we used photographs that were taken several years before the start of the renovation. The project in Trondheim is illustrated using photographs provided by the architect.


With contributions by:
Sergio Martín Blas, Piet Vollaard & Jurjen Zeinstra

Guido Greijdanus, Cederick Ingen-Housz, Carlyn Simoen


St John’s College

Cambridgemultiple contractors and architects

St John’s College is one of the largest colleges in Cambridge. Founded in 1511 by the mother of Henry VII, the original layout was extended further and further over the course of five centuries until it ultimately became a complex entity of buildings and courts. The compound as a whole provides illustrative insight into the development of the colleges in Cambridge…

Residencia de Estudiantes

MadridAntonio Flórez Urdapilleta and Francisco Javier de Luque

The project was deeply influenced by the Institución Libre de Enseñanza (Free Institute for Education), a pedagogical mission based on nineteenth-century liberalism and laicism. Flórez himself had been educated by the Institute, and translated its ideals of freedom, openness, health and austerity into architectural forms. Furthermore, Flórez’s Residencia anticipated the ambiguous reception of international modernity in Madrid, its influence and continuity to the present, defined by a ‘realist’ approach and the rational rework of traditional techniques like brick masonry…

Collège néerlandais

ParisWillem Marinus Dudok

In 1921, the French Minister of Education André Honorat launched the initiative for an ‘international city’ for students, in the green band around the old city ramparts of Paris. Good housing for a growing student population also served the more ideological goal of preventing new wars through international cooperation. France made the land available free of cost, and participating countries could build a fondation in line with their own ideas and budget, to be transferred on delivery to the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris

Samuel F.B. Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges

New HavenEero Saarinen and Associates

When Yale University in New Haven decided to increase the number of student rooms in the late 1950s, a discussion ensued about whether this should be realized in the form of ‘colleges’, residential communities with shared facilities, or ‘dormitories’, hostel buildings without facilities. Because Yale was primarily seen as a college university, similar to Oxford and Cambridge, and not as a campus university, the decision was taken to build two colleges. The colleges ware named after two illustrious Yale alumni. The design commission was awarded to Eero Saarinen, who had already made several plans for university and commercial campuses, all of them with a strict, modernist orthogonal arrangement. The assignment to realize colleges was the pretext for Saarinen to create a plan that took as its starting point maximum expression of the residents’ individuality within a collective, small-scale entity. He translated this into building forms where repetition and regularity seemed to have disappeared completely…


EnschedeHerman Haan

In 1964, the new University of Twente campus (at that time still the Institute of Technology) was opened. It is the only university in the Netherlands that offers on-campus housing for students, in this case on its wooded terrain. After supervisor Willem van Tijen built the first series of student accommodations himself, he asked Herman Haan to design the second progression. Although Haan had not designed residences in serial production before, he was involved with Team 10 and – despite being older – felt an affinity with younger structuralists such as Joop van Stigt and Piet Blom, who had also been given assignments on the campus…

Cripps Building

CambridgePhilip Powell & Hidalgo Moya

In the first half of the 1950s, editor J.M. Richards voiced biting criticism in the Architectural Review of new-built projects for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The buildings made no contribution to the art of architecture whatsoever and merely reflected the artistic emptiness and small-mindedness of academic taste. In the late 1950s, the tide turned. Up until the 1970s, several projects were implemented in both cities, which interpreted and breathed new life into the traditional building forms and application of materials in the two cities, sometimes in a brilliant fashion. Included in the best work from this period are the extensions to a number of colleges from designs by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya…

Maison de l’Iran

ParisClaude Parent, André Bloc, Moshen Foroughi & Heydar Ghiaï-Chamlou

Maison de l’Iran was the last student residence to be built within the park-like setting of the Cité Internationale Universitaire in Paris, where various countries constructed pavilions between 1925 and 1968 to accommodate their own students. The most well-known pavilions are those from Switzerland and Brazil (both by Le Corbusier) and the Netherlands (Dudok). In the early 1960s, when the design by the original architects of the Maison de l’Iran, Moshen Foroughi and Heydar Ghiaï-Chamlou, was not approved by the city council, the architects turned to André Bloc, the influential founder of the magazine l’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, for help. Bloc put them in contact with Claude Parent, who at that time was busy realizing a villa for him in Cape d’Antibes. Parent seized this opportunity to realize a prestigious project in Paris with both hands. In turn, Parent’s design only managed to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles after the Shah of Iran announced that he wished to be present at the start of construction during his state visit in 1966. After delivery in 1969, Maison de l’Iran quickly became a stronghold of resistance to the Iranian regime, which subsequently withdrew: in 1972 the Fondation Avicenne was housed here, a foundation that also facilitates researchers and students of other nationalities…


NijmegenPiet Tauber

Student days, Granpré Molière contended in his first Nijmegen urban design in 1949, represent a vulnerable transitional phase between one’s family and the whole of society. At Hoogeveldt, architect Piet Tauber wanted to prevent students from being swallowed up in a nameless crowd. In spite of the large number of rooms (1,024), Hoogeveldt distinguishes itself from other student residences by its human scale. The ensemble was built adjacent to the Dominican ‘Albertinum’ priory (H.J.A. Bijlard and K. van Geyn [Eduard Cuypers office], 1930-1932) and is bordered by the recessed tracks of the Nijmegen-Venlo railroad and Heyendaalseweg, which connects the Heyendaal university campus with the city centre. When the friars went in search of an architect who would represent their interests in the urban design changes the city council wanted to implement around their estate, Piet Tauber was, as he himself put it, ‘deliberating with the prior-provincial a few days later’…


TrondheimBrendeland & Kristoffersen arkitekter

The residential complex for young people in Svartlamoen lies on the intersection between what was until recently a run-down city district and a large-scale industrial area in Trondheim. Here Geir Brendeland and Olav Kristoffersen realized their first building in 2005 – at that moment the largest in the world made of massivtre (solid wood) – as the result of an open competition held in 2003. Their motto was: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ This project for individual young people but also groups made a statement about Norwegian housing policy, which was entirely market-driven and did not pay enough attention to people of all ages with a low income. In this project, resident participation, sustainable architecture, freely adaptable space and the innovative use of timber as building material all play a central role…

Anna van Bueren Tower

The HagueWiel Arets Architects

The Anna van Bueren Tower provides a combination of studying, living and social activities in a single hybrid university residential building, centrally situated at an infrastructure hub directly adjacent to the renovated The Hague Central Station. The architect warrants that ‘a flood of visual contact from within the steel tower out onto the adjacent square will ensure that the tower’s residents are provided a truly urban university living experience . . . thus providing views to the square, the skyline of The Hague, and the North Sea beyond’. The threeyear English-language Liberal Arts & Sciences Bachelor’s degree course in the curriculum of Leiden University College The Hague is established here; it prepares Dutch and international students for prominent positions with international organizations. Following this course of study means studying and living under one roof. In addition to tuition fees, the student also pays for a 27-m2 guest room with its own kitchen unit and bathing facility, where he or she can stay for a maximum of two years, linked to their enrolment at LUC…


AmsterdamJ.C. van Epen

The aim of the Dutch Housing Act of 1902 was to relieve the worst failings in the public housing situation, particularly among the poorest section of the population. This did not mean, however, that improvements were not desired for those who were better situated. For this reason the ‘Amster-damsche Coöperatieve Woonvereeniging “Samenwerking”’ (‘collaboration’) was founded in 1908. The initiators of this housing corporation were a small group of higher-level civil servants of the City of Amsterdam who intended to build their own homes…