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DASH #15 – Home Work City

Living and Working in the Urban Block

In today’s service economy the separation between living and working, one of the dogmas of modern urbanism, is under discussion. This issue of DASH looks into the question of what it means to a city when the division between living and working fades away. Together with British researcher/ architect Frances Holliss, DASH examines how living and working can be mixed, specifically on the level of the building block. How do you create living and working environments that are suitable for an extremely varied group of homeworkers? How will this affect the architecture of the block and what does the mixed block contribute to urban life? The representation of the work function, the collective space between street and front door and the division of working and living inside the block are important design themes.
The project documentation includes The Pullens Estate, London (1886-1901), Cité Montmartre aux Artistes, Paris (1930-1932) by Henry Résal & Adolphe Thiers, Piazza Céramique, Maastricht (2002-2006) by Jo Janssen & Wim van den Bergh and IBeB: Integratives  Bauprojekt am ehemaligen Blumengrossmarkt, Berlin (2012-2018) by ifau | HEIDE & VON BECKERATH.


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Editorial Dash #15 Home Work City

In today’s service economy, the functional zoning typical of modern urbanism is no longer self-evident. People’s domestic and professional lives increasingly take place in one and the same domain. They need a different type of city, one that accommodates a wide variety of programmes, with tailormade facilities that allow combinations of living, working and care. This issue of DASH focuses on the building block as the spatial cornerstone of this development. It is where the individual dwelling, the collective domain and urban life meet.

Workhome blocks that combine new ways of living and working are more than commercial bases topped by a couple of dwellings. Historical projects abound, but contemporary workhome blocks are more difficult to find. Apparently, many of the parties concerned need time to get used to the idea of realizing such projects. What is required, in short, is a cultural transformation. This is why the essays and examples in this issue are a plea for a different way of building.

The advantages of workhome blocks are considerable. The projects in this issue show different living and working communities, from casual to closely-knit, that share meeting places, kitchens, cars, workshops, gardens and many other amenities. Due to their varied use of the spaces, at different times of the day, the people who live and work in them contribute to a vibrant street life. The addition of the work function calls the architectural representation into question. It gives rise to an outspoken architecture that sometimes reveals – and sometimes negates – the functions it contains. Questioning the dynamics between living and working furthermore leads to intelligent forms of flexibility and therefore often results in workhomes that are adaptable.

Researcher/architect Frances Holliss points out the urgency of the live-work challenge in an ‘opening manifesto’. The results of her extensive study into homeworkers provide tools for a better understanding of the issue. Next is a round-table discussion organized by the DASH editorial team, which gauged the Dutch situation by talking to a number of architects and urban designers. The discussion confirmed the absence of parties that recognize and dare to enter this particular market. The situation also calls for different approaches to urban design and regulations, because growth and change are an integral part of these projects.

The essays and project documentation have been arranged around three research themes. How do such building blocks enrich the collective domain, that is: the space between the street and the front door? And then: How does the block present itself to the city? And finally: How are living and working distributed over the project, and what are the consequences of this distribution? In a discussion of the first living and working blocks in seventeenth-century Holland, Eireen Schreurs observes that the addition of a working programme led to a number of interesting innovations on the level of the dwelling, the block and the city. Birgit Jürgenhake introduces a design study by Japanese architect Riken Yamamoto to show how living and working traditions continue to live on in Japan, and Dick van Gameren explores Amsterdam-Zuid to find out how working facilities have enriched the urban design. Birgit Hausleitner, finally, presents a number of locations in which the mix is promising at the urban design level. This issue of DASH concludes with ten exemplary projects that use specially developed drawing techniques to make the themes collectivity, representation and the distribution of working and living visible.


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The Workhome

An Architecture of Dual Use

In 2019 we have a global environmental crisis of catastrophic proportions and, in the UK at least, a rapidly growing population, a chronic shortage of housing and unsustainable pressure on our transport infrastructure. With more women in work than ever before and less well-defined gender roles, there is increased pressure on those in employment with caring responsibilities. At the same time, there is a steady growth in self-employment. This reached four million people, or 15 per cent of the entire workforce, in the UK in 2015.1 All these factors have contributed to a major upturn in flexible working practices, globally, that has home-based work at its core. They indicate a need to stop commuting and become far more rooted in our neighbourhoods.


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The Birth of the Dutch City Block

Weavers’ Blocks in the Golden Age

Dutch housing culture has its origins in the urban terraced houses in which people lived and worked for centuries, in all kinds of configurations.The individual dwelling remained the determining unit of urban development until industrialization took off in the nineteenth century. However, even in the seventeenth century, people were thinking and designing on a larger scale; of this, the urban extension of the Amsterdam canal area is the best-known exponent. But while this extension plan concerned an entire district, in the end it was yet again the terraced house, in this case the chic canal-side house, that was the development unit. As a result, the character of the city block remained secondary, with the urban design dependant on individual owners.2 Much less known but all the more interesting are a number of projects from the same period that were actually based on the entire city block as a development and design unit. In quick succession, various architects in different cities took on the experiment to create designs for city blocks that combined living and working for a specific target group, namely weavers and their families. This article will compare three of these weavers’ blocks and join the architects in their search for the added value of the city block as a design unit. What advantages did they see? What design choices did they make on the basis of perceived advantages? Did the combination of living and working in these artisan dwellings influence the design, and which criteria were decisive? What could the designers refer to in their façade designs given the fact that the entire city block was the architectural unit? And finally, with regard to flexibility: How did they guarantee that they would be able to find tenants, should the weavers stay away? These are questions that, if you look at current discussions about urban living and working blocks, have lost none of their topicality.


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Local Community Area

The Machiya as a New Model for Dwelling

Is it possible to organize a neighbourhood in which living and working are interwoven in a natural way? In which there is room for collectivism, for the creation of a strong community, while the privacy of the resident is respected? In 2012, Japanese studio Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop carried out a design study into a new way of living, introducing a concept that included approximately 500 people living together as a collective, the Local Community Area (LCA). The plan embodied fierce criticism of Japanese housing policies, which promote owner-occupied housing in order to stimulate the economy while people with low incomes have hardly any opportunities on the housing market. It is a policy that is very unilaterally focused on single-family homes and one-room apartments, which as individual units have little connection with the neighbourhood.


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The Art of the Corner

The Studios of Amsterdam-Zuid

In the twentieth century, the development of Amsterdam was marked by important moments of change. These moments are still visible as sudden transitions in the year rings of the concentrically grown city. The first transformative moment can be deduced from the year rings created around 1920. The nineteenth- and early twentieth-century extensions of the city were based on the existing rural polder structures. This changed drastically in the 1920s as the new extensions replaced the old landscape patterns with a formal and autonomous composition of lanes, streets, squares and canals. The change was made visible for the first time in Plan Zuid, H.P. Berlage’s famous urban development plan, which took its final shape following a series of design proposals in 1915.1 The second transformation took place about 20 years later, when the closed city blocks with a diversity of functions that defined the lanes and streets of Berlage’s plan were replaced by individual buildings, each with a specific function and free-standing in a continuous open space, most clearly articulated in Cornelis van Eesteren’s Algemeen Uitbreidingsplan (AUP). The way in which the artist’s studio, as a special variety of a combined living and working space, is incorporated and represented in the buildings in these different periods is exceptionally illustrative of the radical changes in the relationship between urban structure, architecture and programmes over time.


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Mixed-Use City

Confi gurations from Street Network to Building Plot

Today the idea of ‘mixed use’ is one of the leading policies in the urban (re)development of many European cities. UN Habitat recently indicated that: ‘. . . cities have a natural advantage when it comes to promoting low-carbon mobility. Their density and mixed use ensure that many destinations can easily be reached on foot, by bike or using public transport.’ From this we can define mixed-use neighbourhoods as those that interweave a diversity of urban activities within a walkable distance, thus in spatial proximity. Which urban configurational conditions afford a mixed-use city?


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The Future of the Dutch Workhome Project

Round-table discussion with Frances Holliss, Jo Janssen, Wim van den Bergh, Jeroen de Bok, Isabelle Vries, Robert Winkel, Franz Ziegler, Eireen Schreurs and Paul Kuitenbrouwer

While preparing this issue of DASH, the editorial board noticed that it was hard to find recent projects that successfully combine living and working. Even though Dutch housing has a reputation of plan innovation, its projects rarely explicitly address the issue. To get a better understanding of why this is the case, and to discuss how workhome arrangements can be stimulated in the Netherlands, DASH organized a discussion. We invited a number of Dutch architects and planners who are involved in projects combining living and working to share their experiences and ideas at a round-table discussion.


Plan Documentation

Plan Documentation Home Work City

This edition of DASH documents ten projects that, on the scale of the urban block, explore the ways in which workhome combinations contribute to urban design, architecture and programming. Historical examples in Coventry, London, Kyoto, Paris and Amsterdam as well as more recent projects in Basel, again Paris, Maastricht, Rotterdam and (a brand new one in) Berlin, in both growing and planned cities, offer relevant leads. The drawing method used in the project analyses focuses on three design themes: the representation of the mixed programme, the collective domain and the accessibility from the public realm (the area between the street and the front door), and finally how living and working are interwoven on the scale of both the urban block and the dwelling.

The way the ten documented projects manifest in the urban fabric is unusual because of the added work programme. In this context, we primarily focus on the mixed programme’s representation and recognizability towards the city as well as – if the project is part of a larger urban block – on its representation within the created enclave (the collective domain). This representation is presented in a full-page isometric projection of the ensemble in its urban context. Projects that refer to the scale and façade composition of factories include Cash’s One Hundred Cottage Factory, where a continuous strip of windows represents a factory hall, WoonWerkPand Tetterode, a transformed former letter-foundry and Schiecentrale 4b, with its impressive, tight-gridded glass façade. Other projects take their representation from the logic of the workshop or atelier. The Pullens Estate is made up of small work-yards with small-scale workshops and IBeB: Integratives Bauprojekt am ehemaligen Blumengroßmarkt is interwoven with the ground level in cross section: double-high basement ateliers are accessed via footbridges and topped by north-facing atelier apartments with workspaces on the ground floor. Yet other projects make use of the neutral aesthetics of the office, such as Piazza Céramique. In this context the collage comprising Wohnhäuser St. Alban-Tal is exceptional because in it, the representation of living and working (the two are never linked) has an ambiguous character. The cover of DASH shows that living in the Cité Montmartre aux Artistes takes place along galleries with narrow façade openings and that the work spaces to the back have large, northfacing studio windows. Living and working meet in the atelier apartments as well as face each other across elongated, collective courtyards.

The second design theme concerns the collective domain and its accessibility from the public domain. These spaces form buffers and facilitate a variety of access options. In ‘domain drawings’, the ground floors of the projects are drawn in their immediate urban contexts and show collective entrances and entrances to dwellings, work spaces or workhomes as well as the collective domain (uncovered = pale beige; covered = dark beige). In the case of Schiecentrale 4b, we had to deviate from this. In this project the focus is on the collective domain, which is accessed from, but also elevated above ground level.

The collective domain can be closed off by means of gates (Cash’s One Hundred Cottage Factory, The Pullens Estate) or by a combination of gates and collective vestibules (Cité Montmartre aux Artistes, WoonWerkPand Tetterode) that act as a filter and create an enclave within the urban block. The spaces are dimensioned for freight traffic; after all, they have to facilitate the loading and unloading of materials and products. At the scale of an entire urban block, the Quartier Masséna exemplifies such combined access methods. Here – within the boundaries of an urban block – individual buildings are accessed via collective vestibules that are connected by a network of paths. Fences separate the collective courtyard from the public road. In the case of free-standing buildings, the collective domain can also be accessed by relatively simple shared entrances (Wohnhäuser St. Alban-Tal, IBeB). Piazza Céramique occupies a special place because here, a discrete entrance to the public area accesses a very formal atrium with surrounding galleries that function as a vestibule for the residential programme in one building and also provides access to the (mainly office-oriented) work programme in the other. The Cité Montmartre aux Artistes’ atelier apartments are accessed via collective galleries; the same gallery principle is also found in Schiecentrale 4b. At IBeB the gallery has been transformed into a rue intérieure that opens up most of the dwellings at the heart of the cross section, like a new interpretation of the rue intérieure Le Corbusier coined much earlier, in the sense of a social capacitor for his residential Unité d’habitation, which was designed as a community.

The third analysis theme considers the way in which components such as dwelling, workshop/ atelier, atelier apartment and workhome relate to either flexible or inflexible building structures. The components are drawn as isometric projections and as floor plans, together with façade fragments that visualize the architectural representation of the drawn programme. The extent to which there are separate living and working areas or rather intertwined ones is represented in two shades of grey. In addition, the degree to which living and working spaces are interwoven in the overall project is recorded in an isometric diagram that sums up this information at a glance.

The component used in the Cité Montmartre aux Artistes is the rationally stacked, connected and accessed atelier apartment (logementatelier). Within this component, residents personalize the interiors of their atelier apartments by intervening in the size and use of the mezzanine floors. The Mumeisha Machiya are single-storey, small-scale components used in a dense urban network. They have a high degree of flexibility within their contours due to the way in which walls and panels can be opened, closed and moved both in the interior and towards the street. The flexibility of Piazza Céramique is maximized by the structural design of both buildings: the use of load-bearing façades allows each building block to upsize or downsize or be mainly residential or mainly commercial. By contrast, Wohnhäuser St. Alban-Tal, a traditional ensemble with two types of components – separate dwellings and separate ateliers – is not flexible at all. The former factory complex WoonWerkPand Tetterode features various building blocks and has both characteristics: an enormous spatial variation and a great diversity of (innumerable) components.

The analysed projects’ added value to the city is in the added work programme, which gives the projects a different daily rhythm. Their divergent – and characteristic –representation at the scale of the urban block contributes to a lively cityscape. In addition, the flexibility of urban blocks holds a promise for the degree to which they are future-proof.

The drawings are mostly based on historical publications, private photographs and archive material. The more recent projects in Maastricht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Berlin have been drawn on the basis of documentation made available by the designers involved. New photo reports have been made especially for this DASH issue and supplemented with photographs obtained from designers and authors. In the older projects, historical photographs have been used whenever available to ensure the original appearance can be compared with the current situation.


With contributions by:

Frederique van Andel, Javier Arpa, Mikel van Gelderen, Marius Grootveld, Frances Holliss, Pierijn van der Putt, Lidwine Spoormans & Franz Ziegler


Axel Beem & Ana Luisa da Fonseca

With the assistance of:

Melvin de Wijs


Cash’s One Hundred Cottage Factory

Goventry (GB)

Cash’s One Hundred Cottage Factory was a development of 46 weavers’ houses built in 1857 in Coventry. A shared driveshaft ran through the upper-floor weaving studios, powered by a collective steam engine, allowing home-based silk weavers to operate power looms and therefore compete with their factory-based peers. Such buildings were called ‘cottage factories’. Arranged as a pair of 12-m-high terraces around a set of allotments, the larger 112-m-long block overlooked the Coventry Canal to the east, while the shorter, at 62 m, overlooked Cash’s Lane to the south. The scheme also included the Head Office for J. & J. Cash, Ltd., the silk weaving company that built the development and employed the resident weavers.


The Pullens Estate

London (GB)

In the Pullens Estate, built near Elephant and Castle, London in 1886-1901, 684 one-bedroom apartments were built in 12 austere tenement blocks across six streets. Each of the ground- and first-floor flats extended into a contiguous workspace that backed onto one of four cobbled yards. This unique arrangement developed the mews model around the needs of the manufacturing poor: blue-collar workhomes. Combining workers’ housing with industrial units, it allowed artisans, small traders and their families to live and work on the premises. Ground-floor shops with elaborate glazed timber frontages, facing outwards onto the street on either side of the gated entrance to each yard, also combined with adjacent living space.


Mumeisha Machiya

Kyoto (JP)

Machiya are traditional wooden dwellings that are still very common in Japanese cities. The combination of dwelling and work space is anchored in the genesis of this dwelling type, which was built by the merchants and craftsmen of old. The original use included the display of goods in the shop (mise) on the street side and living space for families in the rooms at the back. The sleeping quarters of the staff were on the upper floor and kimonos and other valuable possessions were kept safe in the storage room (kura), the ‘treasury’ at the back of the courtyard. The urban structure consists of a grid of squares, with the machiya forming more or less closed building blocks. In some cases blocks are dissected by smaller streets and divided into fragments.