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The Dutch urban block and
the public realm
Models, rules, ideals
Komossa_16 ENG.indd 3
This publication has been partially funded by:
Netherlands Architecture Fund
Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology
Van Eesteren-Fluck & Van Lohuizen Foundation
Urban Planning and Housing Department (dS+V),
Woningstichting De Key, Amsterdam
ERA Contour, Zoetermeer
Professor Kees Christiaanse, Swiss Federal Institute
of Technology, Zurich
Professor Maristella Casciato, University of Bologna
Professor Anne Vernez Moudon, University of
Professor Antonio Monestiroli, Politecnico di Milano,
With thanks to
The dissertation supervisors Professor S. U. Barbieri
and Professor A. Reijndorp
The ‘Atlas team’ Han Meyer, Max Risselada,
Sabien Thomaes, Nynke Jutten et al.
Tim Vermeend (perspective cross-sections)
Derk Hofman (atlas of drawings)
© 2010 Susanne Komossa, Rotterdam and
Vantilt Publishers, Nijmegen
© 2010 English translation by Kevin Cook, Nijmegen
© 2010 Foreword, Jean Castex (English translation
by Kevin Cook, Nijmegen, editing by Henk Hoeks)
ISBN 978 94 6004 055 9
Originally published in Dutch as Hollands bouwblok
en publiek domein: model, regel, ideaal
(ISBN 978 94 6004 040 5)
Cover and book design
Roger Willems, Amsterdam
Lithography and imaging
Stef Verstraaten, Nijmegen
No part of this publication may be reproduced and/or
made public by means of print, photocopy, microfilm
or in any other manner without the publisher’s prior
Komossa_16 ENG.indd 4
private and collective realms and everyday life Introduction of concepts from urban sociology Architects and the everyday Dutch and other architects as ‘makers’ The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm The structure of the block and transitional architectural features The public realm and the economy of the city The relationship between the urban block and the urban economy The urban model and the urban block Atlas of drawings The mercantile water city Seventeenth-century Amsterdam: a knowledge city before its time The embellished civil engineers’ city The design of the new middle-class public sphere in Rotterdam and Amsterdam The social reformers’ city Models for a monofunctional urban block The sociocultural city The collective ideal becomes a fixture The contemporary compact city The long.Contents 7 Foreword From morphological analysis to design: in Saverio Muratori’s footsteps Jean Castex Komossa_16 ENG.indd 5 13 Introduction 21 Chapter 1 35 Chapter 2 45 Chapter 3 57 Chapter 4 87 Chapter 5 99 Chapter 6 127 Chapter 7 139 Chapter 8 155 Chapter 9 173 Chapter 10 189 Chapter 11 209 Chapter 12 215 Acknowledgements 217 Credits for illustrations 219 Bibliography Continuity and discontinuity The identity of the Dutch ‘city of homes’ Dutch cities: the public. hard road to the urban public sphere Conclusion: themes. methods and approaches Linkage of concepts and methods leads to a new strategy 11-10-2010 21:19:37 .
as well as the moment of scholarly design. in regulated areas whose underlying soil had yet to be created. The emergence of the modern urban block The notion of the ‘urban block’ seen as an urban structure. examining the relationship between the urban block and public space and its various uses. 4 Castex. in contrast to the street structure. Studi per una operante storia urbana di Venezia (published in Rome in 1960). it is based on theoretical underpinnings shared by various schools of urban morphology going back to Saverio Muratori (1910-1973). It extends into the social realm. et al. 424). this was taken to its extreme in the plan for Brno. represented by the models and rules whereby this relationship is described and ordered. 21-41. Formes urbaines. it is ultimately based on the continuous historical development of the city. Finally. 3 Stübben. Max Risselada. In his book Der Städtebau. whose blocks included parks. While the book includes an ample iconography of urban forms and their use. Han Meyer. the city and society.2 Penetrating the social realm and the practices prevailing there. creating unexpected views and order in the urban landscape. ‘Une architecture de l’usage’. Châtelet (ed. 1986. may have originated in the work of the Consiglio d’Ornato in eighteenth-century Turin. L’espace du jeu architectural: Mélanges offerts à Jean Castex. IV. flanked by built-up plots (or. as a basic unit of the urban ground plan). 2007. Komossa recalls those in the southern part of the city (Amsterdam Zuid) and then the celebrated blocks in the Spangen and Blijdorp districts of Rotterdam (designed by Michiel Brinkman and Van den Broek respectively). pp. the plan was ordered by the main street.. in spatial planning terms. M. 19732009). although he was very much in favour of ‘very large urban blocks designed for a variety of uses’.). Sabien Thomaes and Nynke Jutten and published in 2005). Pursuing his fascination with Dutch cities. pp. ibid. with a concave south side and a north side lengthened by recesses’. it moves on to the level of ideals by outlining the design practice that emerges from the study. 1907. ‘located more or less in the middle of the site. In the loop of the River Svratka (Schwarzach in German). she defines the shapes of these blocks as canonical. ‘Registres instrumentaux. at the time still under Austrian rule (p. This emphasised the key role played by Amsterdam in the crucial transformation process – from Haussmann to Le Corbusier – whereby the urban block was first simplified and then abandoned altogether in favour of cities split up into ‘rows’. Handbuch der Architektur. Depaule thus initiated research into the spontaneous appropriation of the design. In doing so. 1 Panerai. however. Turin. 42-53.indd 7 11-10-2010 21:19:37 . Interpreting the ground plans of the urban blocks in Amsterdam’s De Pijp district. Most of all. It is an urban morphology study of the meaning of the urban block. which alternately focused on history.’. Panerai contributed an article entitled ‘The scale of the urban block’ to the Atlas of the Dutch urban block (edited by Susanne Komossa. recalling discussions ‘on do-it-yourself. for example in the Marienberg plan (p. It includes an analytical element. in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. de l’îlot à la barre (1977) – belatedly published in English as Urban forms: the death and life of the urban block (2004) – shows just how interconnected the Delft and Versailles schools have become and how links between them have continued to grow. The study led by Philippe Panerai.1 In the same vein Jean-Charles Depaule. The street led to two traffic circles round the church..Foreword Jean Castex From morphological analysis to design: in Saverio Muratori’s footsteps The title of Susanne Komossa’s book makes quite clear what it sets out to do. Accentuation and diversity of functions along the streets were above all intended to ensure variety. discovered amid much opacity the ‘transparencies’ of the production of space.4 To correct the errors that had accumulated in the city’s Roman ground plan over the centuries. in A. Panerai discussed an ‘architecture of use’ that he had encountered ‘on the road to Haarlem’. the savage mind and instrumental registers’.3 Hermann-Josef Stübben – probably influenced by the diversity propagated by Camillo Sitte – presented designs based on the former parcellation pattern. 341). The cities were divided into urban blocks drawn as part of an overall construction plan. The morphological research tradition of the École nationale supérieure d’architecture in Versailles was based on the Laboratoire de Recherche Histoire Architecturale et Urbaine – Sociétés (Ladrhaus. the council created isole (islands. observations sur l’architecture d’une capitale baroque. This was very different from the ‘natural’ growth of peripheral districts along roads whose successive branchings ultimately created the urban blocks. or urban blocks) 7 Komossa_16 ENG. 2 Jean-Charles Depaule. etc. shown in sequences of juxtaposed ground plans of Rotterdam and Amsterdam from 1625 to the first half of the twentieth century and closer to the present day (from 1981 to 2007). whose main writings date from his study of the urban fabric of Venice. or from the practice of early twentieth-century German designers. a market and small businesses.
c. ‘Pianta dimostrativa delle isole …’. with the walls between plots located between the windows in the left-hand bay – rather than in the middle of the pillar – and just in front of the left-hand wall of the other bay. Cultura figurativa e architettonica negli Stati del Re di Sardegna.Foreword with names taken from the calendar of saints – 144 names. with a piano nobile marked by series of circular or triangular pediments. However. and modern architecture Susanne Komossa reinterprets the work of Saverio Muratori. ‘they remained enclosed places’. The ground plan of the urban block was compressed. The city was turned into a monumental whole. capital of the nineteenth century’. the reality of Haussmann’s blocks can only be grasped in the context of an ‘outward-looking’ city. the Via Milano. in Castelnuovo. The neoclassical convention altered the typological scale of the interventions. The urban block thus took precedence over the plot. and it raised the question of the complex status of the urban block in relation to public space. la ville (18521870). traffic speeded up and lively boulevards developed. The approach to public space in Susanne Komossa’s study is of such fundamental importance that older observations have to be clarified and corrected. 2002. in Architecture of Italy. Even though there were three different owners. where the front façades were composed block by block. She does so in a detailed discussion of the indelible marks left by the practice of the ‘free plan’. New York. although it contained cafés and bars. The front façade was composed as a single entity. The original thesis. The scale of the intervention became coherent. 7 Benjamin. After 1775. a fall in the price of glass resulted in more shop windows. 1997. For example. Removing the front façades so that the buildings no longer faced the street. The middle classes abandoned the street to the workers. the façade appeared as a single entity. cafés and bars put tables out in the street. Jean Castex 5 See. ‘Les lotissements post-haussmanniens des quartiers nord de Paris’. Yet even Benjamin speaks of ‘Louis-Philippe. p. acknowledging the cohesion of the group of residents within each block but compelled to reorient and widen the streets. were intended for the better-off workers (examples included the intersections of Rue Gérando and Rue de Dunkerque near Boulevard de Rochechouart. ‘Paris. but one that was in line with changing practices. Similar approaches were adopted in the main road to Milan. The Dutch urban block was to take these ideas further. However. Turin’. 121-122. Under Haussmann’s administration. the result of a process designed to link up the plots by means of a façade. except in the workingclass ‘refuges’ of eastern Paris. With all due respect to Walter Benjamin. The expansion of trade that followed the spread of commercial licences took over ground floors and mezzanines to create ‘plinths’ of shops and storerooms. habits began to change: stiff bourgeois dining habits made way for set menus that attracted almost every social group – an illusion. creating a social hierarchy among the occupants. all the way to the splendid Piazza Vittorio Veneto (the former Piazza Po). began with Haussmann’s Paris. Paris Haussmann. they recomposed the front façades block by block. only lent itself to intimate use. the first designed with great care and the second intended for working-class housing. for all its gas lighting and glass roofing. the Paris of old was inward-looking. César Daly’s sixvolume opus L’architecture privée au XIXe siècle. and embellished façades were presented to the street. 1991. sous Napoléon III (1864) and its second series (1872) clearly show the relationship between the housing blocks and the new conception of public space.7 The arcade. manufacturing the city as an ordered series of urban blocks that formed part of an overall plan. or Rue Eugène Sue and Rue Simart in the Clignancourt district). was defended in 1975. evidence of great skill. which bore the marks of both Dutch tradition and contemporary alterations. The work of Saverio Muratori. 1775. These cheap dwellings. 9 Santelli. admittedly. the Congresso degli Edili set about negotiating the relationship between the private spaces of the plots and the public space of the streets that provided access to them. The typology was maintained in a manner that was characteristic of Turin: an atrium. or the interior’. 1024. These relationships must be properly understood if we are to interpret the gradual changes in the urban fabric and reveal the coherence of the city. 8 Gaillard. The work includes important statistical analyses. for example.8 Haussmann’s housing blocks (whether middle-class or working-class) in districts such as the former (pre-Haussmann) eighth arrondissement – the Faubourg St Antoine – can only be understood in the light of these changes. Although the task of simplifying the urban block. 297-303. As a result of all this. Turin’s archives are full of documents on the subject. in The Arcades Project. this remnant of social mixing disguised the loss of the large courtyards where craftsmen had previously plied their trades. Above these. the Isola San Gabriele on Contrada del Senato5 was given a single front façade extending over three large plots and a length of about a hundred metres. 1980. The composition and the specific details clashed in complex ways. the overall arrangement failed to preserve the autonomy of the plots: the inside of the block was a compromise. There was a vast difference between Rambuteau’s city (Rambuteau was the prefect under King Louis-Philippe I) and Haussmann’s. pp. which provides the underpinning for her study.6 a threehundred-metre length of magnificent design by Giuseppe Frizzi (1824-1825). The few blocks that were built entirely for workers – no doubt after Haussmann – were essentially reduced replicas of middle-class housing. merchandise was put on public display. the stone or light masonry buildings were divided into floors of apartments.indd 8 11-10-2010 21:19:37 . in Des Cars and Pinon. built between 1871 and 1885. Paris. supported by metal columns. steps and two inner courtyards. 6 Castex. pp. modernist ideas from 1920 onwards 8 Komossa_16 ENG. from Sant’Eustachio to Sant’Anna and Santa Catarina. presented here by Florence Bourillon and Jean-Luc Pinol.9 Social tensions reflected a capital city in which the importance of industry was acknowledged and merchandise was put on public display. 2008. ‘Piazza Vittorio Veneto (Piazza Po). streets became brightly lit. the police created a sense of safety. and finally abandoning it altogether.
He therefore considered architecture the most important phenomenon. which contains a fierce attack by Bruno Zevi. turbulent institute of architecture (IUAV) he had already made great enemies. Muratori bore the marks of the post-war cultural crisis. urban fabrics and physical settings. although he had left Venice in 1954. Knowledge of urban morphology thus emerged from a reversal of architectural thinking. whose ideas about the logic of the design were very different. 57.Foreword and the challenges to modernism by Team X (including Alison and Peter Smithson. 182-223. and their ranking. 9 Komossa_16 ENG. after winning the competition for the Barene di San Giuliano district in Mestre (on the mainland opposite Venice). Alexis Josic. it had no form. 1960. which he attempted to solve. — The urban fabric is only revealed in relation to the whole of the urban structure. We should not forget that.11 He was influenced by the German romantic author Schiller. and fundamentally challenged prevailing attitudes. As a teacher at Venice’s vibrant. Giuliano. Each type had its own structure and its own means of linkage in one or more directions. Muratori was fascinated by the joy of classification and comparison. recording it and thinking about what was there before it was built and the changes the actual buildings had undergone. This persecution was to continue until Muratori’s death in 1973. which formed the ‘nucleus’ of the type. This ‘design analysis’ revealed the classifications that could lend order to a disordered city. Robert Venturi. he was influenced by working-class culture and preferred ‘ordinary buildings’ to architects’ overindividualistic proposals.10 They too had begun to challenge ‘rational’ architecture and call for a return to history and local culture and customs. In the 1950s. Closer to the present. In a country where there were close links between architects and intellectuals. there was no longer any difference between the researcher’s analytical observation and the design as a continuation and updating of history. history was the place where he could exercise his historical judgement. 509510 of Casabella. far from being dislocated. economics. built structures. buildings. Saverio Muratori architetto. It called for different practices. Shadrach Woods and Aldo van Eyck). homogeneous or juxtaposed heterogeneous or hierarchically ordered constitution. The titles of his books stubbornly repeated the notion of una operante storia urbana (which can be rendered as ‘urban history put into practice’). in the here and now. 1. and L’architettura. from furniture to physical setting. Georges Candilis. What the buildings and the shape of the city had in common was the ‘type’. See Casabella. ethics and aesthetics. all architects tried to find the illustration that most appealed to them. that could be traced in each specific period of the culture. classer. 1960. But he felt it must abandon its aloofness and become the historical movement for the transformation of the city. Rejecting creation without rules. ou les enseignements de l’italophilie’. 1984. This is discussed in my thesis ‘Le concours de 1959 pour le quartier lacustre de la Barene di S. There were three basic theorems: — The built type is only revealed in the built fabric. His position deserves to be explained. architecture was the discipline in which all these cultural themes came together. it saw architecture entirely in terms of transformation of the historical object: the city. To Muratori. Muratori had produced large tables (tabelloni) for his pupils. of which the design was simply the latest moment. he was preparing to publish his Studi per una operante storia urbana di Venezia. he was forced to reconsider his architectural position. where the various layers of history. And it was the city that ordered the merging of these various types.12 Morphological analysis and design How was the built reality of the city to be understood? By observing it. 1990. no pattern (which Muratori called ‘illustration’. The coherence between the various types was shown by a table showing the repetitive ordering of their linkages. 2001. 242. projeter. could be seen as they had gradually evolved over the centuries. à Venise Mestre’. he looked for greater professional commitment on their part. in Castex. solving the crisis in architecture by returning to the city and history meant taking every aspect of culture into account. but at the same time they felt strongly drawn to the Team X group. in issue No. he felt compelled to act as a philosopher. The type was abstract in both structure and constitution. ‘form’ meant organisation. including politics. And where was this to be found? In the old city. More than any other city. To Muratori. acquire knowledge at the highest level and display his awareness of human culture. The philosopher Benedetto Croce inspired in Muratori a view of history as the present rather than the past: history seen as the ‘will to do’ that guided human action. 11 See Cohen ‘La coupure entre architectes et intellectuels. Muratori remained faithful to the idea of classifying built forms and finding the elements they had in common. In 1959. The post-war cultural crisis cried out for the recovery of lost unity.indd 9 11-10-2010 21:19:38 . This did full justice to history. edited by Vittorio Gregotti. showing all the various types of furniture. despite his achievements as a pre-war rationalist architect. comprendre. No. Twenty-five years later. as far as he was concerned. visual quality). a ‘spontaneous’ unity that had not yet been shattered by the assaults of rationality. No. and gave it priority. ordered in accordance with social structures. Saverio Muratori himself was fiercely attacked by Italy’s leading architects. cells. In his view. each type had its own heterogeneous. Carlo Aymonino and Aldo Rossi. which appeared in 1960. Jean Castex 10 There is a good deal of literature on the subject. which he ‘illustrated’ with the help of his tabelloni. As far as he was concerned. on the position of Italian culture. This caused him to embark on a radical reappraisal that was soon interpreted as a ‘revolution in thinking’ and was to generate fierce hostility around him. but the type was something else. including Manfredo Tafuri. Venice lent itself to such a rediscovery. Denise Scott Brown and even Rem Koolhaas are cited for their radical reassessments of modernism. Working on the INA-Casa in Rome from 1951 to 1955. the trench warfare against typology was still raging. 12 Much of this is taken from Pigafetta. in In Extenso No. Of course. pp. Une typologie à usages multiples.
There were four rules that expressed the transition from analysis to design. one by Argan entitled ‘Tipologia. but three main avenues can be identified. it was rooted in urban culture and provided insight into it. taking its cue from Harold Dyos. Muratori was convinced that space and time. the history of everyday life and urban behaviour. he focused on differences rather than contrasts. Tribute must also be paid to Aldo van Eyck for his fascination with distant cultures. twentyfive years down the line. in A. 35-55. See Cataldi. See Caniggia. was to describe in 1985 as ‘shrouded in arrogance’. in Montuori (ed.13 Architects had to be humble. we need to look closely at the theoretical and social changes that have taken place since 1960.indd 10 11-10-2010 21:19:38 .Foreword — The urban structure evolves over time. rediscover the lost original substance and aim to be restorers as well as designers. The first is the reassessment of modernism. which sees the past as the driving force behind the present and sheds 10 Komossa_16 ENG. even at the end of the 1950s. 16 The Bollettino del Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio. He avoided the clashes created by dialectics. Of course.). 509-510. Aldo van Eyck. Benevolo responded to the scandal with another scandal. 19 See Strauven. ‘Designing in Stages’ (note 13). I. It was known in advance. 15 Cataldi. in a succession of responses and expansions based on earlier states. 1984. Muratori displayed an all-embracing. In any given city. ‘Saverio Muratori. and also Cataldi.19 which was reviewed and commented on in Tom Avermaete’s 2005 book on Candilis. 20 Avermaete. a position that Werner Oechslin. 1985. 18 Seta. in Casabella. unitary awareness of the synthesis that had been destroyed by rationality. pp. ‘Designing in stages’. 70-74. which at the time were simply incapable of opening their minds to contemporary architecture. general’ notion of types and its primarily inventive purpose. Modern architecture and typomorphological analysis in the Netherlands Jean Castex 13 Gianfranco Caniggia took Muratori’s ideas further and provided useful tips about his method. and hence indisputable: (1) organise the form. 1988. rules that were characteristic of Venice. pp. Lezioni di progettazione. published three articles. no less an architect and historian than Leonardo Benevolo had already lashed out at Muratori in a commentary on the Barene competition in which he called him a ‘vampire’! That a historian who regularly published on the Renaissance.). now engaging in criticism of typology under the editorship of Vittorio Gregotti. 124-161. typical of Venice. He rejected the fragmentation of reality that rationalism entailed. 17 Oechslin. like the notion of a house. before analysis. led by Gianfranco Caniggia and the Genoa. 2005. pp. 1981. It was vital not to lose sight of this threefold approach when analysing the city and the distribution of types within it. The link with history meant regaining the old built environment as a therapy for modern architecture. p. The urban fabric of Venice. p. Their methods provide a model for studies of social trajectories. In Britain. la didattica e il pensiero’. the driving force behind his criticism. including Max Risselada’s Raumplan versus Plan Libre (1987). Zevi became obsessed – but this is not to judge his competence as a historian – with the notion of ‘creative freedom’ in contrast to typological ‘rigidification’. Another modern. 1-2. 509-510 of Casabella. and two by Zevi entitled ‘Problemi di interpretazione critica dell’architettura veneta’ and ‘Attualità culturale di Michele Sanmicheli’. 1998. Petruccioli (ed. Coupling the knowledge of the Venetian fabric that he had accumulated between 1950 and 1954 with the winning design for the Barene di San Giuliano district in 1959. That was why the type was the synthesis of the city. He died in 1973. Typological process and design theory. German researchers study Alltagsgeschichte. Josic and Woods. and the BollatiMarinucci archives in Storia Architettura. 1959. were givens in children’s learning processes. identifying the various types made it possible to understand the culture of the city. No. 13-16. Things have been very different in the Netherlands. VII. 177. how it was organised and how it was perceived in everyday life.15 Academic and professional infighting in 1960s Italy meant that Muratori’s awkward lessons were dismissed and his views ignored. which could well revive interest in Dutch practices. 1998.20 The second avenue concerns lifestyles in the context of studies of everyday life. was the sole model. social (not meddling with things that worked well) and economic (finding new solutions to avoid the disorder that threatened our culture). In essence. had a number of advantages: political (striking a balance between the collective realm and individuals). Florence and Ferrara schools. simbologia. when a well-considered article reviving ideas about urban morphology appeared in issue No. in both its recent traditions and its current situation. the transition from morphological analysis to design was always a contentious issue in the architectural profession – except among Muratori’s followers. returning to a concept of the ‘type’ based on social structures and knowledge of practices.14 The ensuing onslaught on Muratori was later to be called a disgrace to architecture. typical tout court. 38. (2) produce buildings in related and yet distinct groups. there is the Urban History Group. Like Benedetto Croce. modern times and the history of the city – a teacher of modern architecture who hoped it would generate ‘the most brilliant modern efficiency’ inspired by Gropius – should stoop to such depths can only be explained by the ‘scandalous state’18 of Italian universities. but enjoyed something of a comeback in 1985. 66-73. The three sketches he submitted for the competition precisely reflected these rules and linked his design to the development of Venice. He wrote an introduction stating that the city. pp. To give an old building a new vocation in the present was to restore the continuity of history. ‘Designing in Stages’ (note 13). 14 Design drawings not discussed here have been presented in numerous publications. and yet (4) modernise and adapt them. As these clashes made clear.16 Argan discussed at length the ‘vague. L’architettura del Novecento. (3) be conscious of Venetian types. via the rediscovery of other cultures and the realism of social movements. There are many works dealing with the issues that face modern architecture. pp. the real Venice. ‘Per una ripresa della discussione tipologica’. he showed how to put this historical continuity into practice. Suffice it to recall the clashes between Bruno Zevi and Carlo Giulio Argan in 1959 regarding the place of typology and its relationship to the contemporary city. allegorismo delle forme architettoniche’.17 In the 1960 issue of Casabella.
1973. which he likewise founded. and is benevolently guiding the transition from the old to the new. Paris. examined in detail in the present study. 2005. L’architettura della realtà.21 There are numerous other references. Jean Castex. a reassessment of typomorphology (a concept developed in Italy). on the ‘culture of congestion’. was published by Architectural Press in 2004). of course. le chantier de la ville moderne.indd 11 11-10-2010 21:19:38 . The main focus of his studies is what he calls ‘urban form’. Jean-Charles Depaule and Philippe Panerai. The notion of tolerant modernity is increasingly popular. 22 Jacobs. The lectures have been published in English as The metope and the triglyph. Victorian suburb. The death and life of great American cities. Moniteur. which endeavoured to present all the morphological solutions to contemporary cities. Michel de Certeau’s The practice of everyday life (1984). 1969. showing what has persisted and what has adapted to ‘modern’ life. revealing all the levels of urban form. as well as the constant practical confirmation of a version of modernism that is accepted and advocated via the design of public space and housing. Since 1930 there have been many studies on the adaptation of the fabric. Other publications by Castex that are of relevance to the present study are Lecture d’une ville: Versailles (co-authors Patrick Céleste and Philippe Panerai). have enabled formal analysis and design to come together in much of the Randstad’s emerging urban area. 1979. in 2010. why not try again? Jean Castex 21 Dyos. All three avenues concern dwelling layout. Paris. The following book of his should also be mentioned: Renaissance. building typology and grouping of buildings in the city. 1977 (a highly praised English translation of this seminal work. Editions de la Villette. more recently. and Chicago 1910-1930. 23 Monestiroli. Italian culture provides a number of examples: Casciato et al. 1995. 1961. published in 2005. CNRS. The third avenue. 1978. 1979. anthropologie de l’espace (co-authors JeanLouis Cohen and Jean-Charles Depaule). He was also in charge of the Laboratoire de recherche histoire architecturale et urbaine – sociétés (Ladrhaus). baroque et classicisme: histoire de l’architecture 1420-1720. The Victorian city. Then there is Anne Vernez Moudon’s key research on San Francisco: her 1986 book Built for change shows the capacity for transformation of an urban fabric renowned for the quality of its dwellings. 11 Komossa_16 ENG. Formes urbaines: de l’îlot à la barre. Paris. which he helped set up in 1969. In the Netherlands. He introduced this concept in Jean Castex. Until he retired he was professor of architectural history at the École nationale supérieure d’architecture in Versailles. 2010* The headings have been added by the editor of the series of which this book forms part. Urban forms: the death and life of the urban block. * Jean Castex is an architect. including Jane Jacobs’ books (1961 and 1972)22 and. Paris. Perhaps we may now begin to dream of as comprehensive a catalogue as Stübben’s Der Städtebau (1907). and Dyos and Wolff (eds). Histoire urbaine. the firm backing provided by morphological studies based on the work of Saverio Muratori. A true urban culture is being put to the test. is the link between continuity and discontinuity. 1990. Hazan. A century on. The book has been reprinted several times and is still used as a textbook. 1961. and The economy of cities. In the collective work Atlas of the Dutch urban block (2005). 2010.. Susanne Komossa presents a broad range of solutions and some fine examples of successful transformations which together have proved capable of structuring Dutch cities in a meaningful fashion. Paris.Foreword light on situations that hitherto seemed impossible to grasp. Funzione e senso. there is Rem Koolhaas’s Delirious New York. And. 1980. which is reassessed by Dutch tradition and encourages it to accept a tolerant modernity. Paris. An interesting parallel may be drawn with Antonio Monestiroli’s ‘architecture of reality’23 and his lectures.
Owing to the need for a public realm and places where knowledge can be exchanged. as in the case of Amsterdam’s Java and KNSM islands. Their living and working environments are starting to become greener as people turn their balconies into lush miniature urban Arcadias and plant roofs. The definition used in this study is broader. the need for urban densification is no longer questioned. Areas inside urban blocks that used to be green are now increasingly paved. but also when it comes to developing new architectural models that tackle the issue of the Dutch urban block far more broadly than we have been accustomed to since the Second World War. cities with a highly educated population and a relatively large knowledge industry. pp. or redesign public space so that they can play anywhere? The increasing diversity of city dwellers also means we must think about socioeconomic mixing and the nature of the public realm. which are now located underground. and so therefore is population density in existing city centres. 5 A good example is the MVRDV building and the surrounding area on Amsterdam’s Silodam. but also the area in and around the urban block. What this means for 57 Komossa_16 ENG. in Komossa et al.2 So far the implications of this for public space in neighbourhoods and districts have not been studied. is also treated here as an urban block. individual space requirements have increased and average occupancy per dwelling has fallen. 2 Even rising housing density (expressed in numbers of dwellings per hectare) can in some areas be accompanied by a fall in the number of people actually living there. the situation is different in and around the centres of Amsterdam and Utrecht. Thus a cluster or ‘stamp’ consisting of several separate buildings surrounded by traffic routes. or they are carefully hidden away. but also because they spend more time there and in some cases even work from home. status. Once again. Not only the city. The transformation of the urban block in relation to the public realm is a continuous process. The number of people living in each dwelling is thus declining. restructuring areas and new housing districts. where the themes of the closed and the open urban block have been revived. This is not just because people can afford larger dwellings.1 such as the design for Amsterdam’s GWL site with its pavilion-like buildings in green surroundings. Many knowledge workers are prepared to get rid of their cars altogether in order to live centrally. ‘A new old coat: the reinvention of urban tissues and dwelling types’. local facilities.4 people – especially those work- ing in the knowledge and creative industries – are prepared to accept smaller dwellings in order to live and work in or close to the city centre. 6 The term ‘urban block’ is generally understood to mean the closed urban block. however. 2005.Chapter 4 The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm The structure of the block and transitional architectural features The transition from the private space of the dwelling to the public realm: the Dutch urban block as intermediary The task of the Dutch urban block is today determined by the changing demands made on dwellings and the housing environment.indd 57 11-10-2010 21:21:03 . This is inevitably leading to the introduction of new typologies for car parks. public transport.6 should provide space for a variety of people who do not all have the same social. It is a tremendous challenge – not just in typological and quantitative terms. and what to do with the kids: park them in pretty playgrounds full of springy chickens. is that familiar urban block typologies are simply transformed and recycled. The nature of the public realm itself is also changing. for reasons of sustainability and energy conservation. other factors play a part in the choice of location. cultural or economic backgrounds and whose daily living habits differ.5 1 Brouwer.3 but it seems likely that towns and cities are not as busy as they once were and that streets are getting quieter. An increase in the number of cars inevitably has implications for public space: either it is taken over by the cars. streets and quaysides with flowers or redesign them as picnic places or terraces. Atlas of the Dutch urban block. people are now required to park off the street and the standard number of cars per dwelling is two rather than one. 246-250. or abolished altogether as private outdoor space. Sometimes there are unexpected ‘reinventions’. and also because of the growing number of single-person or two-person households. of course. As a result of this. population density has stopped falling or even started to rise. Here again the question is to what extent green space can be part of inner-city locations. No satisfactory balance has yet been struck between cruising traffic as an enrichment of the public realm and cars as stationary or moving street decoration in relation to the large numbers of cars in search of somewhere to park. The same applies to green space and children’s play areas in cities. surrounded by streets on four sides. Another trend can be observed in Amsterdam and Utrecht. however. In many places (even the low-rise dwellings on Amsterdam’s Borneo and Sporenburg peninsulas) the new ‘parking norm’ has resulted in gardens being transferred to the roof. In the urban areas of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. the average new dwelling is larger than it used to be. as in Rotterdam’s Pendrecht district. the housing supply and. in inner courtyards or even on roofs. such as accessibility. which can be described as ‘work in progress’. What often happens. This ought to result in new architectural models for the dwelling and the housing environment. 3 However. Owing to increased prosperity. In such areas. and so the programme for the urban block is different and the relationship between the dwelling and its environment must be reshaped each time.. ease of access for pedestrians and cyclists. 4 Of course.
0 250 m Cross-section of an urban block on Java island. DIJ KG RA Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block on Java island. 1:5000. 1:500.RINA MEK HET IJ The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm Chapter 4 SUR INAM ADE EKA DE JAVA-EILAND IJHAVEN ADE JAVA KAD 0 E 0 125m 25 m 0 Fragment of the morphological map of Java island.indd 58 11-10-2010 21:21:07 . CH T Canal on Java island. 0 25 m 58 Komossa_16 ENG. Amsterdam. Amsterdam. 1:1000. Inner courtyard on Java island.
For a very long period of time. In the nineteenth century the entire urban block took over this function. in each given period? What was the agenda of the urban block? What were the goals associated with the block. Could overlapping functions be the answer? As the population structure changes. Their residents. not only in the areas between the housing blocks. with more or less the same depth and length. we architects need to know which architectural models are available to us. The same goes for new housing plans that focus too heavily on the collective realm. At the end of the twentieth century the urban block was transformed yet again. We also need to know – and critically examine – the sociocultural and economic ideals on which such historical precedents were based. which provides space for the exchange that is associated with the public sphere. but also on the scale of the neighbourhood and the district. The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm 7 The ‘public realm’ or ‘public sphere’ is usually defined as the domain in which there is both virtual and physical exchange of ideas. Instead of a collective realm. as in Amsterdam’s Nieuwmarktbuurt and Rotterdam’s Oude Westen districts. where various population groups can manifest themselves. knowledge. In the 1970s the collective-space model – originally developed in order to emancipate the working class – was reapplied when restructuring the existing urban fabric. the specific example. The remainder of this chapter will document and interpret this transformation process in relation to the public realm.indd 59 11-10-2010 21:21:09 . In seventeenth-century Amsterdam’s ring of canals. or ‘new tweeness’ – were small scale and variety. The façades of the blocks in urban renewal areas were fragmented. These were now replaced by ‘collective’ facilities for the residents’ daily hygiene and sometimes also education. old or new. complain of crime and neglect. the individual house was a socioeconomic unit. The urban blocks that the early twentieth-century social reformers designed for the working class no longer included economic functions such as shops and workshops. it is not enough just to know the architectural and urban planning models and rules. loitering teenagers are treated as a normal phenomenon. In the 1950s – by which time the closed urban block had completely disintegrated – the collective realm was the predominant feature in districts such as Pendrecht.7 we must ask ourselves to what extent tomorrow’s urban block and its immediate surroundings can provide space for the exchange that is implicit in the public sphere. The ‘public realm’ is defined here as the physical space in and around the urban block. The transformation of the Dutch urban block has been briefly described above with reference to the structure of the block and the composition of façades. ideas are exchanged and opinions are formed. However. the schedule of requirements and the functions in and around the block. the contemporary Dutch urban block needs a differentiated public realm that welcomes all city dwellers and gives them space to develop. As far as façades are concerned. we now appear to be returning to an architecture of the city. This was also reflected in the structure of the façade. which had still been an integral part of the programmatically mixed nineteenth-century block. rather than a mere extension of housing? However. If an area is really to form part of the public realm. such as space for commerce. with reference to features of the architectural model that are of relevance to the present-day design task: — What ideal was associated with the architectural model. individuals and groups are confronted with one another. In the nineteenth century façades were designed street by street. The emphasis was on a succession of similar façades in each street wall. goods and labour. but also ask ourselves how dwellings in today’s new expansion and restructuring areas and inner cities can be geared to a diverse population and the public realm at urban block and city level. 59 Komossa_16 ENG. The block displayed a considerable degree of continuity throughout this 335-year period. its structure changed. The definition used in this chapter is a narrower one. models for the urban block that focus entirely on collective space and ‘the regenerative function of housing’ are starting to look obsolete. relaxation and recreation? Profusion of plants on a balcony in Silodam. This will only be possible if there is public space not just in the city but also in and around the urban block. the shape of the Dutch urban block remained narrow and elongated. the erstwhile ‘model’ districts – much of which is taken up by collective green space – are now increasingly unpopular. from 1600 to 1935. Such models seem unlikely to survive for long in the face of a changing population structure. emphasising the urban block as an architectural unit. a three-dimensional overall architectural composition. Amsterdam. designed by MVRDV. people work and go to school. They had a varied substructure. In the seventeenth century each house had its own architecturally distinct façade. The district was presented as a single unit. Typical features of the new style – later to be dubbed the nieuwe truttigheid. experience. ideologies. city dwellers can see what others are up to. As regards ‘tomorrow’s urban block’. The composition of the façade changed once again. opinions. a similar central section and separate roofs for each house. Silodam block of flats. in the form of the programmatically mixed urban block. and threatened with demolition. transport.Chapter 4 the architectural and urban planning task of the Dutch urban block in today’s context is that we must not only build larger dwellings and provide enough parking space. and then analyse their rules. rather than separate façades for each house. How was the transition between the private and public realms shaped in the past? How can today’s dwellings be appropriately linked to the city? How can public space truly be designed as the pivotal feature of an area. With increasing diversity.
indd 60 11-10-2010 21:21:44 .The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm Chapter 4 05 05 04 04 03 03 02 02 01 01 BG BG DE PIJP SPAARNDAM PENDRECHT DE PIJP Spaarndam SPAARNDAM Pendrecht De Pijp PENDRECHT GWL GWL GWL SCHAAL 1:500 Legend LEGENDA SCHAAL 1:500 Public paved space Public green space Collective Private OPENBAAR VERHARD OPENBAAR GROEN COLLECTIEF PRIVE OPENBAAR VERHARD OPENBAAR GROEN COLLECTIEF PRIVE LEGENDA Comparison of access typologies and transitions between dwellings and the public realm. 1900-2000. 60 Komossa_16 ENG. 1:625 (BG = ground floor).
quays and side streets formed the public realm surrounding the block. The canal house was a sociocultural as well as economic microcosm. Façade. and side streets full of shops and workshops. For example. and even markets. The succession of individual buildings along the building line formed the closed urban block. The blocks with internal gardens combined a large number of urban functions. The relationship between the public and private realms was also shaped on the scale of the individual house. The late nineteenth-century mixed-use urban block In the nineteenth century the individual building ceased to be a microcosm of the city. shops and dwellings all in one. the narrow. waterless side streets provided a pedestrian link (flanked by workshops) with the city centre.8 was on the street. As for the integration of housing and industry. but this overlooks the complex social as well as economic organisation of the house and the urban block in that part of Amsterdam. the block as a whole also formed an economic unit. It was not only functionally but also socioeconomically differentiated and mixed. In a sense this was a continuation of the tradition of mixed activities that had become common in the now overcrowded city centre (although some goods were already stored in warehouses along the River IJ).Chapter 4 — What were the intentions behind the urban block? Were they economic. and what part was played by the access typology and the façade that were meant to provide a link between indoors and outdoors? — What was the layout of the dwelling – for example. These were located in the Jordaan district. 61 Komossa_16 ENG. the goudrand (‘golden perimeter’) – the elegant buildings in De Pijp overlooking the Sarphati- Cross-section. In contrast to the prestigious merchants’ houses along the canals. The commercial office. 9 They were found in the less deliberately planned parts of the city. pavements. At urban block level the stables and coach houses were collective facilities. The house was directly linked to a ‘global’ traffic and transport system comprising pulleys mounted in gables. the Plantage. shopkeepers and wage-earners. such as the old centre and Jordaan.9 As already mentioned. The quays had a transport. In this mixeduse urban block. The building regulations (known as keuren) banned businesses that caused local pollution or other forms of nuisance. sociocultural or hygienic? — How were the sequence and the distance between the dwelling and the public realm designed? — What was the nature of the transition? How were architectural features used to organise the transition? — What was the role of intermediate areas such as corners. 1659. 59 Herengracht. The hierarchy of the streets in this system was simple and amazingly effective. 10 It is always claimed that the housing function predominated in the ring of canals (Taverne. The quays and side streets were undoubtedly very busy – a great deal of everyday life took place there. Individual canal houses in Amsterdam thus contained a mixture of various social groups and economic activities: businessmen. There was a great deal of overlap between the various functions. segregation of industry and trade began in the seventeenth-century ring of canals. the stairs. traders in local and international goods. Series of façades in the ring of canals. shopping and entertainment. quays and canals which in turn were linked to the River IJ. composed of individual buildings or plots. 1659.10 Jordaan.indd 61 11-10-2010 21:21:52 . the wide corridor and the comptoir were simultaneously part of the house and the public realm. the individual house was the basic unit in the block. front gardens and canopies. The basement at the front of the house was usually let to traders in bulk goods such as beer and wine. However. the moorings and the warehouses along the IJ. Abrahamse and Noyon). and a series of plots could be developed and built on as a single project. The block was still closed. A typical example: De Pijp in Amsterdam The typical nineteenth-century urban block provided housing for various population groups and places for work. or comptoir. but often had a rear passageway. did the interior face the street? Amsterdam’s ring of canals: the home as a socioeconomic unit During the seventeenth century. The basic subdivision was the plot. formed an inner-city Arcadia where each merchant’s family had a miniature ‘country home’ in the form of a summerhouse. the differentiation of functions within Amsterdam’s city walls was simple: the old city. storage areas and dwellings rolled into one. 59 Herengracht. landings. The canals were the main streets. canals provided the connection with the surrounding area. most of which was taken up by the houses’ large gardens. 1659. They were located in recesses and leftover spaces in the bends of the ring of canals. the ring of canals. the side streets contained smaller houses that were workshops. and the cross The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm 8 French for counter. Canal houses were trading houses. On the scale of the city. and the merchant’s family and servants lived in the back room and on the upper floor. Floor plan. the canal house was a place where housing and work coexisted. the attic was used for storage. Building now took place on a larger scale. persons of leisure. 59 Herengracht. There were scarcely any alleyways within the ring of canals. It was no longer the individual house that formed an urban microcosm of production and consumption (as it had done in the seventeenth-century ring of canals). ship owners. The pavement. The spacious inner courtyard. Flats were built for a number of tenants or owners within such rows of buildings. trade and recreation function. each street wall had its own architectural and housing typology. storage. but the closed urban block as a whole. churches and cemeteries were to some extent part of the block fabric. and as a result the canals.
ROKIN BEGANE GRON PRIN HEREN The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm Chapter 4 SINGEL KEIZERSGRACHT HUIDENSTRAAT HT AC R EG IDS LE HERENGRACHT KEIZERSGRACHT HUIDENSTRAAT AT RA S ID LE 0 T ES 125 m 0 Walls of façades in the ring of canals. GRACHTENGORDEL Fragment of the morphological map of the ring of canals. L 0 T CH RA EG S EID 250 m STADSFRAGMENT Perspective cross-section of an urban block in the ring of canals.indd 62 11-10-2010 21:21:57 . 1:500. 62 Komossa_16 ENG. 1:1000. 1:5000. 25 m Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in the ring of canals.
and the second door on the landing at the top of the steps provided access to the upstairs dwellings. The through streets were flanked by ground-floor shops with upstairs dwellings.Chapter 4 park – consisted entirely of housing. play and contemplation. which of course was part of a kamer en suite. In Amsterdam the Van Niftrik plan (and later the Kalff plan) created a second ring round the city. During this transformation of the urban block. and this changed the use of the street. occupants had a splendid view of the park. Especially in Rotterdam. Pavements became wider in the nineteenth century. The contrast between the varied substructure of the street wall and the plain façades of the superstructure reflected the relationship between the various functions in the urban block and their relationship with the public realm of the street. Singels and parks. a number of publicly accessible functions were transferred to the inside of the urban block in the form of collective facilities. In Rotterdam the nineteenth-century block was – and still is – much more clearly a mixed-use block. De Pijp and Dapperbuurt districts were – and still are – distinct from one another in terms of elegance. and had a variety of relationships with the street. The goudrand buildings overlooking the singels. Both the upper and lower sections of the windows could move. recreation. the superstructure was plain and almost remote. The façades of the town houses on the Sarphatipark were far more lavishly decorated. for example. The façade of the upstairs flat was flat and plain. The ground-floor door was the entrance to a dwelling. ornamentation and composition reflected the occupants’ status. The open porch can be seen as an extension of the public realm of the street. dwellings and groundfloor shops alternated in the backstreets. From the front room. such as bars and cafés. It was finely decorated with tiles. A typical feature of this arrangement was the open porch with steps and two or more front doors opening onto the street. The tertiary streets mainly provided housing for the growing number of workers in the port. the first of their kind in the Netherlands. often with more than one balcony. with broad socioeconomic differentiation within each street wall and each block. The new districts made little or no provision for national and international trade and storage of goods via canals. The notion of ‘public housing’ as a social ideal and a task for social reform was born. the small porch on The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm the street with steps and a front door to the raised ground floor (bel étage) created distance. were preferably located on the corners. Public functions. The early twentieth century: collective space is introduced into the urban block With the spread of specifically working-class housing following the adoption of the 1901 Housing Act. Sometimes there was a third door that served as a second entrance to the downstairs flat. as it were. and at the same time were literally raised above the hustle and bustle of the pavement and the street. There was also considerable variation within neighbourhoods. Sometimes the porch and the double-height shop front formed a compositional unit. In the side streets there were mainly houses divided into upstairs and downstairs flats. The sash windows in the façade had opaque leaded panes that filtered light and ensured privacy. while the secondary streets housed businesses (also with upstairs dwellings) and had shops on the corners. Sociocultural and economic hierarchy was reflected in the width of the streets and the distance from. Through streets were flanked by shops and upstairs dwellings. These were meeting places where the various social worlds in the nineteenth-century urban block came into contact. wrought-iron fencing and patterned front doors. it 63 Komossa_16 ENG. The materials. Shops and businesses were now more geared to the urban economy. the shape of the hitherto closed urban block changed: it gradually began to open up. thereby emphasising the individual dwelling. Businesses. Within this nineteenth-century ring. The substructure breathed. In this street wall. sometimes a single one but sometimes let floor by floor or even room by room. At least as far as working-class housing was concerned. The downstairs flat usually occupied the ground and first floors. The upstairs flat was purely a dwelling. squares and parks were used solely as dwellings. this literally made the relationship between indoors and outdoors on the upper floors a ‘shifting’ one that could be regulated at will. Materials and ornamentation sometimes even differed from building to building. emphasising the privacy of the dwelling. the Kinderbuurt. with the front room or entire ground floor often taken up by a shop or business that was run from home and was either one or two storeys in height. shop or business. Amsterdam’s planned approach to nineteenthcentury urban expansion allowed social differentiation between districts. the green singels. shipyards and other industries. a difference in urban planning models emerged between Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Oud Zuid. became places for meeting people. new public-realm features of urban expansion areas. This changed the character of the public realm in and around the block.indd 63 11-10-2010 21:21:57 . soberly decorated with simple brick bands and a single balcony.
64 Komossa_16 ENG.SARPHATIPARK The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm Chapter 4 AAT STR DOU RD ERA G ERT T RAA PST CUY ALB SAR PHA T RK A TIP TRAA EENS N ST TE JA EERS SARPHATIPARK FERD INAN AAT LSTR D BO AAN UURB CEINT 125 m 0 Fragment of the morphological map of De Pijp. 1:1000. AMSTELKANA AL 0 250 m Perspective cross-section of an urban block in De Pijp. Amsterdam. Amsterdam. 1:5000. 0 25 m BEGANE GROND Porch in De Pijp. Wall of façades in De Pijp.indd 64 11-10-2010 21:22:01 . 0 R N DE N VA TE JA EERS 25 m T TRAA ENS HEIJD Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in De Pijp. 1:500.
Rotterdam.indd 65 11-10-2010 21:22:12 . RWE RGE G 0 65 Komossa_16 ENG. 25 m Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in Nieuwe Westen. 1:500. Rotterdam. 1:1000. SCH Front doors in Nieuwe Westen. 1:5000.AN The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm HE E M Chapter 4 RA A D WEG NEN SPLE E BIN IN W NIEU WE NIEU AAT STR IUS D HON EN US CH RO AT RA ST N SE EL LHAV SING ADS MRA HEE EG ERW ERG B ONE SCH COO EG ENW BINN 0 0 125 m Fragment of the morphological map of Nieuwe Westen. AT TRA ELS SER PAS ONE RBE Wall of façades in Nieuwe Westen. 250 m HEEMRAADSSINGEL Perspective cross-section of an urban block in Nieuwe Westen.
people worked elsewhere.indd 66 11-10-2010 21:22:15 . collective facilities as a means of emancipation and so forth. but at the same time it excluded women from the urban public realm. the goals of housing associations and local authorities could be divided into quantitative ones (such as more affordable dwellings) and qualitative ones (including measures to promote hygiene. were transferred to the collective inner courtyard. Collective facilities in the inner courtyard: bathhouse. cooked and lived. Along with shops (often run as cooperatives). Amsterdam developed Gateway to the inner courtyard of Michiel Brinkman’s urban block in Spangen. 2005. 12 Reijndorp. In both Amsterdam and Rotterdam the socioeconomically mixed urban block made way for blocks and neighbourhoods with a far more homogeneous population structure. Collective facilities at urban-block and sometimes even neighbourhood level included sun terraces and collective gardens where residents could spend their time in safe. for social as well as hygienic reasons. Corner bars disappeared. ‘Van saamhorig ploeteren naar opgesloten koesteren’. which is why there was often something castle-like about the social reformers’ complexes. Grocery lifts in stairways were still a feature of many projects in the 1950s. there were other. measures to curb alcoholism among workers. 66 Komossa_16 ENG. major public health goals included sunlight. functions that had originally been part of the urban public realm were thus ‘collectivised’ and moved closer to the private realm of the dwelling. Separate bedrooms for boys.11 Apart from building costs. 13 Berlage was also involved in the urban plan for Vreewijk. refuse chutes were installed in dwellings and central heating systems in housing blocks. Roughly speaking. in Komossa et al. girls and parents were also advocated. The public realm became a collective realm for the neighbourhood and its occupants. Although Rotterdam and Amsterdam pursued the same goals and ideals in the wake of the Housing Act. 11 De Jong and Komossa. Not only did this encourage social segregation at urban-block and neighbourhood level. Corner of urban block. It was also more uniform. boiler house and terrace for children to play on. The social reformers evidently thought of the public realm as something to be avoided. economic factors now played only a minor part in the organisation and design of the urban block. with a one-sided focus on housing and related facilities. In the early twentieth century. Their job was to make sure that households were well run and that dwellings were used and cleaned properly. 2-17. and corners marking the ends of street walls. For similar reasons. healthy conditions. The programmatic uniformity and repetition of identical dwellings raised the question of how the urban block or complex as a whole – and of course the social reformers’ ideals – could be expressed in a new manner. This meant that housewives no longer had to go out into the street to do their daily shopping. In Rotterdam’s Spangen district. who all had the same background and whose everyday lives followed a similar pattern. there were a number of fundamental differences in the models the two cities developed for the urban block at the start of the twentieth century. In this connection.Chapter 4 included an entire range of social and hygienic goals such as ‘modern’ dwellings with separate bedrooms for boys and girls. with their prominent gateways and underpasses. large lifts and galleries ensured that groceries could be delivered straight to the front doors of second-floor dwellings. 1981. pp. There was a risk of architectural monotony. On the one hand this made housewives’ lives easier. in bad weather they could play in the galleries. However. A difference thus arose between complexes and housing areas intended for unskilled workers and ones for skilled workers and the middle class. Atlas of the Dutch urban block. Rotterdam. level. There were play areas and galleries for small children. Rotterdam continued the garden city idea (first developed in Vreewijk)13 in its ‘high-rise’ projects in Spangen. Some housing blocks had sewing rooms and classrooms for sociocultural activities. separate kitchens. such as children’s play and various domestic tasks. The social reformers’ urban block was far less differentiated than its nineteenth-century predecessor. as a result of all these arrangements and services. female home inspectors were regularly appointed as part of new housing association projects. Bospolder and Tussendijken. improvement of living conditions and sociocultural goals). Some activities that had previously taken place in the street. Of course. or The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm preferably block.. in large port and industrial areas. less readily apparent social agendas. good ventilation. 2003. In the Spaarndammerbuurt and Nieuw Zuid districts. fresh air and good ventilation. Another qualitative feature was a separate living room rather than a kitchen where the occupants washed. At dwelling level. 2003. Other new features were bathing and washing facilities in the form of bathhouses at neighbourhood. which had been both a sociocultural and an economic unit. The result was new compositional patterns for façades. and corners of urban blocks became architecturally plainer. laundry. Arnold Reijndorp has spoken of the ‘domestication of urban living’. ‘The domestication of urban living’. Gateway. 259 ff. the urban block became socioeconomically more monofunctional. this shift towards the private and collective realms also meant the domestication of public life. for it consisted of a large number of largely identical dwellings. and activities associated with the urban economy were excluded from the block.12 In a sense. for example in Van den Broek’s 1934 block in Rotterdam’s Blijdorp district. but streets became visibly less varied. The emphasis shifted to the block as a whole. this also meant that cafés and other public drinking establishments were excluded from the new districts. pp. Finally.
indd 67 11-10-2010 21:22:29 . 0 250 m Perspective cross-section of an urban block in Spangen. 1:500. 1:5000. Gardens belonging to the ground-floor and first-floor flats.stra n Effe tus va n BO CH T The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm SPAANSE P r iete Lan gen at stra dijk Ju s Chapter 4 AA KL AL TJ a Spa M nse AT h Boc t HE NE SS ER DI JK N E TH MA EG RW SE S NE Jan 0 125 m The second-floor gallery on the inside of the urban block provides access to the maisonettes. 67 Komossa_16 ENG. 0 25 m Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in Spangen. Second-floor gallery on the inside of the urban block. 1:1000. SPANGEN MARCONIPLEIN Fragment of the morphological map of Spangen. at stra ken Luy Van t traa ens Har Collective garden and private gardens.
The gateways. gateways and alleyways again provided links through the ring. in turn based on examples from Britain’s garden city movement. an urban enclave with laws and rules of its own. a footpath and a collective garden in the ‘highrise’ projects in Tussendijken. including the upstairs ones. Brinkman interposed collective spaces and facilities at block level between his open urban block and Spangen’s public realm. The ground-floor residents’ private gardens directly adjoined the footpath round the collective garden. collective inner courtyards or enclaves. In Spaarndammerbuurt. Oud’s blocks in Tussendijken. The steps linked the landing directly to the pavement. the roofs and the gables emphasised the collective nature of the inner courtyards. In the middle of the courtyard was the collective garden. as in J. Next to these was a footpath (previously a rear passageway). completing the notion of the vertical garden village. The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm 14 For more on this. see Chapter 9. Amsterdam: super-blocks in Spaarndammerbuurt and Amsterdam Zuid In the early twentieth century. had their own front doors in a small porch that opened onto the pavement. bathhouse and laundry were located. All the dwellings. Rotterdam: the stacked garden village In the new districts built between 1900 and 1930. second. P. ‘The social reformers’ city’.indd 68 11-10-2010 21:22:31 . In a sense. the residential courtyards resembled castles. a second-floor ‘aerial street’ that provided access to the maisonettes. but via a lockable gate for the occupants of the upstairs dwellings.15 This created a large inner courtyard broken up by smaller crosswise and lengthwise blocks. In Vreewijk the row of back gardens belonging to ground-floor dwellings was set off from the inner courtyard with hedges. Rijnstraat was a typical side/shopping street. The inner ring was lower – three storeys with pairs of stacked dwellings – than the outer. Collective facilities such as schools were included in the ring in strategic monumental locations on squares. This model was taken further by Michiel Brinkman. courtyards. Rotterdam pursued the idea of the closed nineteenth-century urban block with a rear passageway. sun terrace. which was the same in all three models. 15 In Brinkman’s version the merging of urban blocks did not lead to a reduction in the number of dwellings. to the street through the block. as village-like enclaves in the city. Spaarndammerbuurt. the result was a series of inner courtyards that were linked to each other and the surrounding streets by gateways. five-storey ring.Chapter 4 the super-block. again bounded by hedges. but also the one that was hardest to grasp. and the boulevards with other districts. The block turned into a bastion. 68 Komossa_16 ENG. The small streets provided a link with the city centre. There the courtyard was designed in accordance with the model developed for the Vreewijk garden village. based on German ideas about mixed-use building14 as interpreted and introduced by Berlage. making the courtyard accessible to the public. This quite definitely increased the distance between the private realm of the dwelling and the public realm. In Amsterdam Zuid. Particularly on the streetward sides. stately Noorder Amstellaan (renamed Churchilllaan at the end of the Second World War). J. This was an elongated. The result was a completely new linkage and transition between the public and private realms. the Hague porch was derived from the nineteenth-century porch. Access to the dwellings in the outer ring was via a ‘Hague porch’. Oud then used the motif of back gardens. and Jekerstraat was a good example of a combined neighbourhood square and residential street. residents only had to cross the pathway to reach the communal garden. was also located on the inside of the block. His merged double urban block in Rotterdam’s Spangen district was the most prominent example from this period. It was open to the street and hence was an extension of the public realm. From here. Amsterdam. the motif of the double ring of buildings was introduced in the Spaarndammerbuurt and Amsterdam Zuid districts. A new feature was the inclusion of a collective garden in the inner courtyard. streets and squares. The classic division of the urban block into front and rear sections was Gateway to Zaanhof. where the playground.and third-floor dwellings had their own front doors on an open first-floor landing. His design for the Spaansebocht (‘Spanish bend’) linked up two elongated or else three crosswise blocks. from the path providing access to pairs of adjoining dwellings and their gardens and the small square shared by ten dwellings. Rather than the individual building or dwelling being identifiable in the composition of the façades in the collective courtyard and the streets. the emphasis was on the size of the complex as a whole. The entrances to the groundaccess dwellings on the ground and first floors were located on the inside of the block. closed urban block that was bent and curved in all kinds of ways to create urban spaces. From the outside. which was surrounded by a low fence. the double rings of buildings did not create closed. but spatial sequences of boulevards and squares that were part of a network of large and small streets. the focus was on the overall volume of the complex rather than the individual dwelling. The link to the surrounding streets was provided by four gateways and a small section of street inside the block. Corners and gateways were highlighted by graphic features such as turrets. the low buildings. A good example of a boulevard was the wide. In this arrangement. The gallery. Here access to the collective gardens was not via a system of short cuts and rear passageways as in Vreewijk. This meant that first-.
0 Façades of lower buildings in the inner ring.indd 69 11-10-2010 21:22:44 . Zaanhof. 1:500.SPAARNDAMMERDIJK SPAARNDAMMERBUURT The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm Chapter 4 SPAARNDAMMERDIJK ZAAN HOF TASM ANST RAAT 25 m ZAA NS AA STZ 0 OO AT RA T RS ME M DA RN AA SP 125 m 0 T OF AA NH TR Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in Zaanhof. 1:5000. Forecourt with passageway to the inner courtyard. 250 m 0 25 m BEGANE GROND Perspective cross-section of an urban block in Zaanhof. 1:1000. Fragment of the morphological map of Zaanhof in Spaarndammerbuurt. 69 Komossa_16 ENG. Interior of Zaanhof. T RAA NST ZAA WESTERPARK Passageway through the double ring of buildings.
0 250 m Perspective cross-section of an urban block in Amsterdam Zuid. 1:500.indd 70 11-10-2010 21:23:01 . 1:5000. AAT RSTR JEKE Battery of front doors. 25 m Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in Amsterdam Zuid. OPA EIN PRESIDENT KE NNEDYLAAN ‘Hague porch’ in Amsterdam Zuid.N ELKA AMST AMSTERDAM ZUID The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm Chapter 4 CHURCHILL AAN CHURCHILL LAAN RIJNS L TRAA WAA T RA ST A STRA MAAS AT AT MAASSTRA T AN LA LT E EV OS RO 125 m 0 0 Fragment of the morphological map of Amsterdam Zuid. 70 Komossa_16 ENG. 1:1000. Corner of boulevard and street towards city centre in Amsterdam Zuid. Façades in Amsterdam Zuid.
as roadside lamps. The hitherto closed – or only partly open – urban block now finally disintegrated. There were two access typologies in Amsterdam Zuid. the public space of the street lost some of its potential as a place for exchange and possibly also conflict. The omission of one side of the block reduced housing density. it continued the tradition of early twentieth-century reform projects for workers. albeit in a minimal. In Van den Broek’s design for the block of flats in Blijdorp. Pendrecht: the green ideal of the reconstruction period During the period of reconstruction that followed the Second World War. His decision to locate the ground-floor dwellings over a raised plinth of storage areas had the same result. Van den Broek’s block consistently reflected modernist ideals about. living upstairs meant less status’ (Pars. The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm 16 The Hague porch (Haags portiek in Dutch) was used in The Hague from 1900 onwards as an access system for stacked working-class and middleclass dwellings. the amount of communal green space in the new districts greatly expanded. In this transformation process. It was replaced by collective space at block. The intentional effect of this was to keep physical contact between housewives and traders.20 Van den Broek himself described the glassfronted porches as extensions of the street. The open urban block thus became the icon of modernism. 18 Venturi and Scott Brown. then hoisted the groceries and their change back up again. At night. p. As the various functions and activities were divided up and segregated. to a minimum. J. and the first-floor and second-floor dwellings had front doors opening onto a first-floor landing that was directly connected to the street by an open staircase. Brinkman and Van den Broek back in 1941 (immediately after the 1940 bombardment) in a study entitled Woonmogelijkheden in het nieuwe Rotterdam (‘Housing potential in the new Rot- Cover of Maristella Casciato. 2004. p. Franco Panzini and Sergio Polano’s Funzione e senso. Van den Broek designed a separate place for each activity. This was almost certainly an echo of the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. 1979. unbuilt. such as play areas for children. The Hague porch and the ‘battery of front doors’ allowed this tradition to be continued in urban blocks that were divided into flats. when Amsterdam was still a city of homes and the more prestigious houses had their own direct access to the street. The collective space in the inner courtyard was carefully divided into a play gallery. ‘In those days. neighbourhood and district level. 17 As well as in Merkelbach and Karsten’s Landlust project in Amsterdam. The creation of storage areas below the ground-floor dwellings and a gallery for children to play in at the same level on the inside of the block also meant that the ground-floor dwellings no longer had individual gardens. The composition of the façades emphasised the continuity of the street walls and the urban space rather than the volume of the actual block. Milan. however. further increasing the distance between the dwelling and the public realm. facing the Vroesenpark. Activities that had previously overlapped in the street or the park. The ground-floor dwellings had front doors at street level. fruit and vegetables.18 Some of the collective facilities introduced in working-class housing in the 1920s. 20 I am not aware of any evidence that the grocery lift actually helped reduce the number of children conceived out of wedlock. Oud’s proposal for the urban blocks in Blijdorp. The 1930s and 1950s. One was the Hague porch. Such flexibility made the dwelling resemble a closely fitting ‘glove’ rather than a more roomy ‘mitten’. 12). 71 Komossa_16 ENG. the amount of green space at urbanblock level was increased by leaving one side. was further developed by Van den Broek. The dwelling was flexibly divided up on the basis of precisely defined daytime and night-time activities. It ensured that even upstairs dwellings in three-storey housing – the standard building height in the city – had front doors that were in direct contact with the street. fold-away beds turned the living room/study into a children’s bedroom. Het Haagse portiek.Chapter 4 maintained. The number of people out in the street decreased. 2005. 19 Generations of Dutch people bathed in the lavet. Housewives in modern porch-access flats put their money and shopping lists into a basket. to be used by all the occupants. In practice. a deep basin that was installed next to the kitchen and also served as a washing machine (it was driven by water pressure). These were replaced by a collective garden in the inner courtyard. The modern dwelling layout. for example. P. The idea was to pave the way for housing ‘surrounded by collective space’.19 Consistent application of porch access and builtin grocery lifts meant the end of door-to-door trade in milk. Blijdorp and Pendrecht: the public realm makes way for collective space The housing experiments of the 1930s put an end to the public realm in Dutch housing. such as bathhouses and laundries. already visible in Michiel Brinkman’s Spangen project. a school garden and a boating pond for the children and a garden for the adults to lie in and enjoy. Maaskant. ‘Glove versus mitten’. showing J. The stairs up to the second floor were just inside the front door on the landing and so were part of the upper dwelling. row housing and open corners that greatly increased the amount of sun and daylight in all the dwellings. up to the end of the 1960s. were now transferred to the inside of the urban block. they increased the distance between the dwelling and the street. At the same time. and this was accentuated by having façades that were identical in height. for a mannerist time. such as milkmen. The programme for the reconstruction of Rotterdam had been drawn up by Van Tijen. as compared with the closed corners in urban blocks. As housing density per hectare fell dramatically. Architecture as signs and systems. became an integral part of the dwelling in middle-class Blijdorp. and the children’s playroom into a bedroom for the parents. compact form that would recur in 1950s projects. 37. among other things by providing collective facilities such as a communal garden and galleries for children to play in.16 The other was the ‘battery of front doors’. The construction of Van den Broek’s housing block in Rotterdam’s Blijdorp district17 in 1934 marked the end of the closed urban block as the urban vernacular in Dutch cities.indd 71 11-10-2010 21:23:05 . in which an ingenious system of stairways gave two of the three upstairs dwellings their own front doors at ground level. the urban block disintegrated even more than it had in Blijdorp.
1:1000. 0 Axonometric projection of a standard dwelling in Blijdorp.L AA AN D OR NO K ER The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm Chapter 4 G WE EL D OR G W EN AT ST EG NA T AA TR RS DE N VA ST AT WE EN G VR EN S OE AN LA LA EN S OE VR AN VROESENPARK Fragment of the morphological map of Blijdorp. 1:500. 72 Komossa_16 ENG. Inner courtyard of an urban block in Blijdorp. 1:5000. Covered gallery for children to play in. 0 S TA DH EG SW ER D OU ER ND VA AT RA ST ST R HO 125 m 0 25 m Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in Blijdorp.indd 72 11-10-2010 21:23:21 . as seen from the Vroesenpark. surrounding the communal garden. 250 m Perspective cross-section of an urban block in Blijdorp. Floor plan showing daytime and night-time use of the dwelling.
. the collective realm and the public realm The dwelling became an open unit in ‘open’ surroundings. 1941. recreation and traffic functions. green space was credited with almost magical properties. but not from different social backgrounds. The population structure. What remained was the visual link to the collective realm. Key features of the design were precise division into daytime and night-time activities. for men and women. The district had a threedimensional mirror-image composition based on population statistics. 22 Bos et al.’26 This was a clear statement of the programme for districts such as Pendrecht and Zuidwijk. the future of the city’). took a critical but also positive view of attempts by functionalist architects to divide up cities into housing. 12. but also linkage between type of building and family structure. they also felt they were ‘abstract’. Each of the four distinct groups was assigned its own building type which differed from the others 73 Komossa_16 ENG.Chapter 4 terdam’). Design drawing for Pendrecht. el- The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm 21 Van Tijen et al. de toekomst der stad.21 Together with A. intellectuals and professionals). de toekomst der stad put it).. On the other hand.. programme and form coincided. De stad der toekomst. De stad der toekomst.e. 27 Ibid. the new districts would be socioeconomically segregated housing districts inhabited by people of different ages and with differing family structures. preferences and desires. 28 The ‘stamp’ reached its nadir in 1960 with Groosman Partners’ design for Amsterdam’s Buitenveldert district. 1946. differences in age. Looking back. form almost literally reflected the programme. After a brief review of ‘modern’ Dutch architecture.. and short walking distances for daily activities.’23 What they liked about the modern pre-war projects was the carefully thought-out orientation of the housing blocks. 1946. division of labour between men outdoors and women indoors. ‘The awareness of profound differences between residents. the amount of green space and recreational facilities and the large windows. Were they financial and economic (‘building for the people who needed it’). wishes. activities and other demographic details.. needs. or sociological (‘a new social order’)? Built during the reconstruction period. p. elderly people and adults. Woonmogelijkheden in het nieuwe Rotterdam. of the workday.. 23 Van Tijen et al. 18. raw and ugly. security and comfort. this housing programme can be seen as the first deliberate attempt at urban segregation. age brackets. but can also withstand them. At the same time the dwelling was both literally and figuratively detached. Rotterdam’s Pendrecht district was a leading example of 1950s housing.. technically and socially perfect and hence clean. but it stimulates the imagination and creates activity. p. of the port may be harsh. 1941. 26 Ibid.. p. functionalist architects . At the same time. derly people) and differences in social standing (working class. saw it. orderly cities and towns. they pointed to the contrast between ideal housing and everyday life. the next for families and the next for single people. such as ‘reconciliation of city and nature’ and ‘enhancing community development’ (as De stad der toekomst. p. and hence dwelling size. as well in sociocultural level.’27 The factors on which this reasoning was based were not explained. Woonmogelijkheden in het nieuwe Rotterdam. starting with Berlage. the sociocultural facilities such as schools and shops. 19 (author’s italics). Bos’s 1946 book De stad der toekomst. At the same time.22 this provided the link between pre-war and post-war housing. for people who above all feel themselves to be city dwellers and for those who want to maintain as much contact as possible with green space and openness even in the midst of the city.. It involved not only urban segregation. The private and public realms in the 1950s: the relationship between the dwelling.’24 And they added ‘But in the future we will strive for a stronger humanity which can not only allow enjoyment and provide calm. there must be a clear distinction between working-class and middle-class housing. 15. the layout of the dwelling became an even closerfitting ‘glove’ than it had been in Blijdorp. the absence of sunless corners. each of which reflected family structure. de toekomst der stad. In the agenda for the reconstruction districts. Although they considered the pre-war efforts powerful and ‘modern’. size. de toekomst der stad (‘The city of the future..000 dwellings destroyed in the bombing. One housing district should be suitable for workers. 1951. also formed the basis for the three-dimensional composition of the ‘stamp’ as a compositional unit in the urban plan (and later as a social unit in the new district). p. In Pendrecht a distinction was made between different types of building. the pivotal feature of the district was green space of every kind. work. 14. lower and upper middle class. The aim here is a solution in which differences in housing originating in the type of family are woven together into as vigorous a whole as possible. any more than those regarding the clash between everyday life and ideal housing.29 At the same time. in which hook-like blocks of identical dwellings were repeated ad infinitum. 25 Ibid. is one such aspect. saw new potential in reality: open. 29 Bos et al. ‘The differences in housing requirements that lead to differences in building are twofold: differences in type of family (young families. The first task during the reconstruction period was to replace the approximately 25. the next for the lower middle-class and intellectuals. efficient division of functions. with clear division of functions. ‘However. as a ‘space for the closed family in an open society’. i.’25 Unfortunately. Van Tijen et al. 24 Ibid. large families. In post-war garden cities such as Pendrecht. standard families. As Van Tijen et al. the family was defined as a ‘closed’ building block of society – a building block (later a cornerstone) that was specifically determined by socioeconomic background. the study did not analyse this contrast in further detail. ‘The reality of the public market. there should be space for children. it presented the programme for the new housing districts.indd 73 11-10-2010 21:23:23 .28 In the new housing models.
25 m Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in Pendrecht. 0 250 m Cross-section of an urban block in Pendrecht.OLDE PENDRECHT GAAR DE The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm RPAR K WEG DIRKS LANDS TRAA T Chapter 4 ZUIDE SLING E 0 125 m 0 Fragment of the morphological map of Pendrecht. SLING E Gallery access in Pendrecht. Collective green space in Pendrecht. 1951. 74 Komossa_16 ENG. Diagram of Pendrecht linking type of building to family structure. 1:5000. 1:1000.indd 74 11-10-2010 21:23:39 . 1:500.
Bos’s book De stad der toekomst. at the expense of the private outdoor space of the individual dwellings and the public realm as an area for the exchange of ideas. the amount of collective space also increased considerably. for only local residents – preferably with the same background and living habits – were welcome and invited to use it. The dwelling itself was again ‘open’. position in the urban plan and access and housing typology: young families with one or two children in three-room gallery-access flats. Only the larger dwellings and the bungalows for the elderly had their own adjoining gardens. and hence the public realm. All the other private gardens were replaced by communal ones. 1946. let alone other parts of the city. and elderly people in two-room bungalows. the above-ground or half-sunken plinth of storage areas increased the distance between the dwelling and ground level. larger families in six-room terraced houses. In districts such as Pendrecht. The increased distance between the private and public realms and the segregation of functions may be said to have caused private and collective space to merge. it will be seen that the increase in area was roughly eightfold. collective green space. knowledge. 75 Komossa_16 ENG.indd 75 11-10-2010 21:23:46 .e. with plenty of windows and balconies. collective space was not public space. ideologies. If the area of Brinkman’s Spangen block (1. The question remains what such transparency actually meant and stood for. the former urban block underwent a huge increase in scale as an urban planning unit – for the new unit in the urban plan was no longer the stamp. with the result that there was no longer any public realm round the dwelling. opinions. ten stamps formed a demarcated unit. The access system was itself part of the collective area: the galleries in the high-rise buildings and the porches in the raised urban blocks effectively lengthened the route that had to be travelled from the public realm (the shopping centre and the through roads) via the collective realm of the ground-level area to the front door of the dwelling. experience. People from other quadrants. but the group of stamps.Chapter 4 The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm in height. had no business there. i.8 hectares) is compared with that of a Pendrecht quadrant (14 hectares). Rotterdam. Together with the size of the urban planning unit. de toekomst der stad compared Oude Noorden and the plan for Rotterdam’s Zuidwijk district. The ‘stamp’ With the introduction of mirror-image or repetitive three-dimensional ‘stamp’ as a social and architectural composition. As already mentioned. families with more than two children in fourroom flats on ‘stilts’. goods and labour. The private and public realms were both literally and figuratively remote from one another. In Pendrecht. they only had access to the through roads and the shopping centre. Ground plan of Oude Noorden.
allowing access to the dwellings to be transferred to the inside of the block. it had become a separate urban planning unit back in the early seventeenth century. Another key factor in the plans to demolish the two districts was the notion that urban functions should be divided. Nieuwmarktbuurt and Oude Westen were the first districts in the Netherlands to undergo ‘urban renewal’. The new housing projects of the 1970s broke with this tradition. and the people they were intended for. such as Oude Westen. the ground floors were kept free of dwellings to provide room for shops. At the same time. Advantage was taken of the differences in height between the inside and outside Diagram of the garden city. Anthoniespoort gate in the glacis (the clear field of fire outside the fortifications) were more or less legalised by the construction of the Nieuwmarkt square on a covered-over section of the Geldersekade and Kloveniersburgwal canals. particularly in St. the lack of children’s play areas and green space and the absence of social facilities. Previously known as the Lastage. 61. picnicking in natural surroundings made way for active recreation: gardening and sport in purpose-built areas. which were no longer felt to meet current standards. such as the growing number of cars. Its streets were ‘strung out’ between Nieuwe Binnenweg to the south and Kruiskade to the north. the urban fabric remained fairly densified. The idea was to find housing and block typologies that avoided high-rise building and at the same time tackled perceived problems in the districts. Nieuwmarktbuurt was right next door to Amsterdam’s historic centre.’30 With the added differentiation of green space at dwelling unit level. the inner courtyard was opened up. In Aldo van Eyck’s Pentagon building in Nieuwmarktbuurt. had consisted of closed urban blocks with an inner courtyard that was not accessible to the public. In the 1970s. Oude Westen was a typical nineteenth-century expansion district. the inner courtyards were designed as squares forming part of the system of alleyways and narrow streets that typified this area of the city. Different population groups were effectively assigned to separate areas: the wealthy to Lijnbaan and Pelikaan in Rotterdam’s city centre. the urban blocks were elongated and in some places very shallow. 1994. 1950s advertisement for ideal domestic division of labour. and the port workers to the southern garden cities. allotment gardens and sports grounds – and divided proportionately over the city. In the Nieuwmarktbuurt housing projects. 30 Andela. Initially there were hardly any cross streets. district or city park. in Reijndorp and Van der Ven (eds). Antoniesbreestraat. Both Amsterdam’s Nieuwmarktbuurt and Rotterdam’s Oude Westen districts were scheduled for demolition (in the 1950s and 1960s respectively). The 1970s (infiltration of collective space into the historical fabric of the city) and the 1990s (revival of the urban enclave) It is fascinating to see how the Rotterdam model and ideal of collective space as developed in Pendrecht and Zuidwijk were projected in the 1970s onto urban renewal areas in the former nineteenth-century ring. In contrast. For each scale there were precise descriptions of the public functions that belonged there. the distance between the private realm of the dwelling and the city centre with its public urban facilities had once again been maximised. the distance between the dwelling and the public realm was increased by interposing collective space. bars and cafés. walking. averaging some 50 metres in depth. One difference lay in the urban fabric of the city. ‘Van wieg tot graf in het groen’. 1995. Green space. De Nieuwmarktbuurt. when the hitherto illegal buildings outside the St.The neighbourhood concept at city level The neighbourhood concept was an attempt to treat the neighbourhood/district and the city as a single entity. displaying the ideal of synthesis between the village and the city.31 Once again. The urban blocks built in the district were relatively short and compact. in the case of Oude Westen. Two examples of urban renewal: Rotterdam’s nineteenthcentury Oude Westen and Amsterdam’s seventeenth-century Nieuwmarktbuurt districts The two radical ‘urban renewal laboratories’ Nieuwmarktbuurt and Oude Westen were very different. like Oude Westen. 31 Compared with the experiments in Rotterdam. 76 Komossa_16 ENG.32 32 De Loches Rambonnet. Before urban renewal took place. the Amsterdam urban renewal model was closer to the early twentieth-century urban tradition. the urban fabric of Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Westen district was rather similar to that of Amsterdam’s De Pijp (based on the slagenlandschap pattern of strip-by-strip building found in the polders). As a result. was assigned a specific purpose – a neighbourhood. Despite urban renewal.indd 76 11-10-2010 21:23:47 . it was to improve the quality of the buildings. In between was a buffer of green space. The main reason in the case of Nieuwmarktbuurt was to create a business centre and build a metro system. after mass protests by local people and owing to changing views about demolition and high-rise building (for example in Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer and Delft’s Zuid districts). The construction of this square meant that the structure and density of the Nieuwmarktbuurt expansion district were almost totally in keeping with those of the historic city centre. with a standardised number of square metres per head of population. p. Some 80% of the buildings still date back to the seventeenth century and are listed monuments. There was a detailed programme for the Zuiderpark: ‘Strolling. Nieuwmarktbuurt. as well as the new urban blocks in Oude Westen. the poor condition of the dwell- Chapter 4 The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm ings. Housing was also differentiated on the scale of the city. Een reuze vooruitgang: utopie en praktijk in de Zuidelijke Tuinsteden van Rotterdam.
indd 77 250 m 0 25 m 11-10-2010 21:23:54 . Oude Westen. First-floor internal street. 1:500. US SE N ST RA AT NIE OUDE WESTEN L OUDE WESTEN Cross-section of an urban block in Oude Westen. Oude Westen. RO Gateway providing access to the first-floor internal street. Rotterdam. 1:5000. 0 77 Komossa_16 ENG. Rotterdam. 1:1000. UW 0 25 m Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in Oude Westen. Rotterdam.JOSEPHPL EI J The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm Chapter 4 ADE UISK T KR WES WESTERSINGE GERRIT STERKMANPLEIN RAAT JOSEPHST ENDIJKW AL 'S GRAV 125 m 0 G WE EN INN EB Fragment of the morphological map of Oude Westen. Oude Westen. CH Urban renewal façade.
25 m 0 Urban renewal façades in Nieuwmarktbuurt. 1:1000. Underpass and inner courtyard in Nieuwmarktbuurt.indd 78 11-10-2010 21:23:59 NB RE . 1:500. EL MST EN A BINN 0 250 Cross-section of an urban block in Nieuwmarktbuurt. HT JO AA 0 OP GR ZW JO AN EN BU R G W AL OU Fragment of the ground floor of an urban block in Nieuwmarktbuurt. 1:5000. 0 25 m 78 Komossa_16 ENG. Exterior of an urban block in Nieuwmarktbuurt.HO F The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm ZU ID ER KE RK Chapter 4 NIEUWMARKT SINT ANT ONIE RA AT EES SBR ST NS TRA OL EN HA M OD O U DE RM AT SC D NIEUWMARKT DE RA DE AM W AT ER LO NB RE AC ES TR DE T 125 m 0 LE I N Fragment of the morphological map of Nieuwmarktbuurt.
They were designed to be neighbourhoods with a divergent character of their own. the front doors on the inside. On the ground floor the new blocks provided areas for sociocultural establishments. These lengthened and differentiated the transition between the street on the outside of the block and the access to dwellings. was very different from that of the surrounding area: the district’s nineteenth-century fabric of closed urban blocks. between the semi-collective. however. The formerly elongated block now became short. The 1990s: urban enclaves in Amsterdam (the GWL site) and Rotterdam (the Müllerpier) The GWL site in Amsterdam and the Müllerpier in Rotterdam are recent examples of the restructuring of urban sites that fell vacant as harbours and industries moved away. At the same time. i. and the transfer of access to dwellings to the inside of the blocks. the new fabric of Oude Westen included a large number of large and small squares and cross-connections. and the living rooms had a door that opened directly (without a porch) onto a small landing on the street or quayside. as in the 1950s. Sites such as Rotterdam’s Kop van Zuid and Amsterdam’s eastern and western port areas were the largest inner-city expansion areas for public functions. the two sites were remarkable for their urban planning structure. At the same time. such as Amsterdam’s KNSM and Java islands (which revived the closed and open urban block respectively). The individual block contained only twenty to forty dwellings. Besides the open inner courtyards providing access to the dwellings. and the sheds on the adjacent wholesale market site. was accompanied by reduced density and less overlap in functions and use. say. the inner squares in the open urban blocks formed part of the urban composition. mainly short blocks amid extensive green space. with a collective garden on the roof. with access via collective open staircases. Access to the upstairs dwellings. The open arrangement of the buildings. On the contrary. In the series of comparable 1990s projects. Both projects contained five to six hundred dwellings. The urban planning structure.e. The front door was on the inner square. On the one hand. rather than the hitherto customary two hundred (for example in the closed urban block). the ground-floor dwellings had access on both sides. They were relatively small neighbourhoods. these porches were not extensions of the public realm. was somewhat ambiguous. The entrances to the new dwellings – usually three-room or four-room maisonettes – were mainly on the raised residential streets. Rather than expansion or densification projects. The urban block as an interchangeable urban unit was drastically reduced in size. housing and offices.indd 79 11-10-2010 21:24:00 . similar in size to the ‘superblocks’ in the Spaarndammerbuurt district. In Amsterdam. the residential street with maisonettes on either side was a continuation of the collective ideal developed for Pendrecht. An example of a green enclave: the GWL site in Amsterdam This restructuring plan was drawn up for the site of the former municipal drinking-water plant in the Staatsliedenbuurt district. The increase in the amount of public space by means of squares and cross-connections. An ideal originally conceived for an expansion area was thus projected onto the existing urban fabric. Mariastraat. What had once been a busy part of the city became a housing area with almost nothing but sociocultural functions. for people were unlikely to choose an alternative route through the district that constantly involved going up and down flights of steps. This meant it was less compact.Chapter 4 of the blocks to design three-dimensional inner squares. Unlike in. this increased the distance between the dwelling and the public realm. which in St. was via open porches reached from a raised pavement that surrounded the inner square. In Rotterdam. collective space was intro- The transformation of the Dutch urban block in relation to the urban public realm duced and access to dwellings was transferred to the inside of the urban block. These raised residential streets did not form a system that was part of the public realm of the street. such as a school or a health centre in Josephstraat and St. access to the dwellings was likewise transferred to the inside of the block. there was a deliberate policy to exclude businesses and shops. the raised streets and galleries on the inside simply increased the distance between the dwelling and the street. The plans for both the GWL site and the Müllerpier were produced by the architectural and urban planning firm KCAP. semipublic inner square and the private realm of the dwelling. local traditions were continued. harked back to the nineteenth-century theme of the green 79 Komossa_16 ENG. Amsterdam Zuid. Above these were the ‘residential streets’. Their intermediate status. In Aldo van Eyck’s Pentagon project. they were ‘urban pockets’ that differed in structure from the rest of the urban fabric. resulting in a succession of pavements and raised sections. Even in urban blocks that had parking facilities in the inner courtyard. consisting of pavilions in green surroundings. Antoniesbreestraat were over bars and cafés. Were they part of the dwelling or part of the square? The typology developed in Oude Westen was based on raised ground levels or residential streets. Two different trends can be seen in the urban renewal designs for Amsterdam and Rotterdam. wide and more or less square.
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