Plan Documentation
Published in DASH #08 - Building Together
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Plan Documentation Building Together

The plan documentation of this eighth edition of DASH includes 11 projects that were realized on the basis of collective private commissions. Spread over Europe and North America, the projects provide a panoramic overview of the last 100 years. It shows the results of people’s private initiatives to build their own homes together with associates. The projects often avoid standard housing production in a number of different ways. The motives of the initiators are extremely diverse and never straightforward. Romantic ideals of a life in the countryside can go hand-in-hand with the notion of achieving financial advantage by working as partners.

In chronological order of completion, the documentation encompasses the following projects:

  • Harmoniehof, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1919-1922 – J.C. van Epen (in collaboration with M.J.E. Lippits)
  • Usonia, Pleasantville, NY, USA, 1947-1952 – Frank Lloyd Wright and others
  • Thalmatt 1, Herrenschwanden, Switzerland, 1967-1974 – Atelier 5 (Erwin Fritz, Samuel Gerber, Rolf Hesterberg, Hans Hostettler and Alfredo Pini)
  • Calle de Arturo Soria, Madrid, Spain, 1976-1978 – Bayon, Aroca, Bisquert y Martin
  • Egelwier, Leusden, the Netherlands, 1975-1982 – Hans Ruijssenaars
  • WindSong Cohousing, Langley, Canada, 1998 – Davidson, Yuen, Simpson architecture (dys architecture)
  • Miss Sargfabrik, Vienna, Austria, 1998-2000 – BKK-3
  • Egebakken, Nødebo, Denmark, 2002-2004 – Tegnestuen Vandkunsten
  • Vrijburcht, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2005-2007 – CASA architecten
  • Zelterstrasse, Berlijn-Prenzlauerberg, Germany, 2008-2010 – Zanderroth Architekten
  • Elandshof, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2004-2012 – Bastiaan Jongerius architecten

The selection was largely determined by the question whether collective private commissioning also leads to new housing typologies. These could relate to the floor plans of the houses themselves, but also to the inclusion of communal facilities or unusual collective external and internal spaces. In order to realize the best-matched house for the future occupants, various strategies are apparently possible: 1) significant variation in types of houses, designed in advance; 2) a structure that makes it possible to elaborate each house individually; and 3) the development of types that can be adapted afterwards by the residents.

For the first variant, the Harmoniehof and the Vrijburcht, both in Amsterdam, are exemplary. The Harmoniehof came into being as a result of the opportunity provided to private individuals in the National Housing Act of 1902 to establish their own cooperatives. The initiative taken by a few senior civil servants to provide better houses for themselves and other kindred spirits turned out to be so successful in the 1910s and 1920s that it led to follow-up projects. The Harmoniehof represents a milestone in this development in housing architecture in the Netherlands. Some 100 years on, the established housing corporations are the ones that facilitate initiatives like this. The Vrijburcht in IJburg in Amsterdam is a good example of this.

Plans that allow the members of the collective each to realize their own interpretation of the individual dwelling (variant 2), differ more significantly from standard housing than those in the first category. Examples are Thalmatt 1 near Bern, where Atelier 5 elaborated on a number of principles from its famous design for the nearby Siedlung Halen to create an even more compact, extremely differentiated complex of terrace houses, and the residential complex Arturo Soria in Madrid, which is a fine demonstration of Habraken’s concept of support and infill. A remarkable Dutch example of this strategy are the 11 houses in the Egelwier in Leusden.

An example of variant 3 is provided by Egebakken in Nødebo, where each house was made to measure during the design, but where adaptations and extensions could be realized at a later stage.

Miss Sargfabrik in Vienna, Zelterstrasse in Berlin and the Elandshof in Amsterdam provide housing types in centrally located urban areas, types that are hardly to be found at all or are lacking altogether. The two projects from North America are perhaps the most driven by ideals. WindSong in Canada places a great deal of collectivity in the housing block and the residential setting compared to the traditional and apparently unavoidable reality of the detached, individual house. In contrast, Pleasantville in the state of New York is based on the ideal of one’s own, detached house, and can be seen as a reaction to the forced communality of living in apartment buildings in the city.

In order to provide insight into the plans and make comparison possible, the projects have been redrawn in a uniform style. To begin with, the urban design of the project has been sketched in a wider context. The difference between living space, private exterior space, communal interior and exterior space and public space is portrayed in the usual DASH way. For each plan, all the building levels have been drawn in their entirety, with one or more cross sections, apart from the relatively large Harmoniehof; here, the most common house types are illustrated separately.

Axonometric projections show the three-dimensional composition of the project, with the position of the communal areas and facilities. Where relevant, the communal space has been drawn in a second projection as a connecting exterior or interior space.

The drawings of the Harmoniehof are based on the drawings in the municipal archives of the City of Amsterdam. The houses in Usonia Pleasantville are drawn as the realized situation, which deviates from the floor plans drawn by Wright himself and shown in virtually every publication. The other projects are based on the drawings by the architecture firms in question.

For this edition of DASH, photo reportages have been made of several older projects: Harmoniehof, Pleasantville, Thalmatt, Egelwier and Miss Sargfabrik. For Arturo Soria, WindSong, Egebakken, Vrijburcht, Zelterstrasse and Elands-hof, photography by residents and designers has been used.


With contributions by: Frederique van Andel, Olv Klijn, Vincent Kompier, Eva Storgaard & Karin Theunissen

Drawings: Guido Greijdanus, Robbert Guis, Cederick Ingen-Housz & Carlyn Simoen