"Urban renewal is the future. Within extant city layouts, new architecture is about re-programming"

Communal Living

Transformation of largest communal dwelling neighborhood in NL

Holland's largest communal housing Neighborhood is located in Nieuwegein. The area counts 23 group homes in total and was developed over 25 years ago by a group of enthusiastic idealists, of which some still reside on the premises today. DUS currently gives the neighborhood a total makeover that is in keeping with the collective ideals and prepares the neighborhood for the future. By not demolishing the buildings, but instead stripping the concrete structure to the core and filling it with a multitude of new dwelling typologies, much more diversity will appear in the future plan and the communal ideals can remain.


The neighborhood 'GW' (Gemeenschappelijk Wonen - 'Communal Living') functions as a unique mini society with a collective bar, restaurant and shop. The fašades of the buildings do not give away the special character of the neighborhood though, and the interior spatial layouts of the 23 communes are dated and in bad shape. Therefore DUS, in collaboration with residents and dwelling corporation Jutphaas, explored ways to prepare the buildings for the future. Via workshops and excursions to reference projects, new grounds for the 'fresh' GW got shape. DUS decided to maintain the existing concrete building structures, as an ode to the characteristic architecture of the 70ies. These special structures have a repetitive width of 6.60 meters and a door opening on every floor in every load-bearing wall. The combination of this relatively wide span with the presence of the door openings offers a wide range of opportunities. DUS introduces a multitude of new dwelling typologies, so that for instance also large families can have a place within the GW. A new internal stairwell with elevator and balconies creates space for the elderly and apartments particularly aimed at handicapped people. The higher multi storey buildings will be transformed into 'levensloop bestendige' apartments, commissioned by Humanitas DMH.

The project is currently in its final construction phase, to be completed in 2012.

Client: Jutphaas Wonen Nieuwegein
Program: Rejuvenation communal housing project (ca. 150 houses)
Location: Fokkesteeg, Nieuwegein, NL
Phase: Expected building completion 2009 - 2012
Project team: Hans Vermeulen, Martine de Wit, Hedwig Heinsman, Jesse de Bosch Kemper, Maja Gesar, Nanna Jee Lind Eriksen