Plan Documentation
Published in DASH #15 – Home Work City
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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