Geometric Living

Geometric Living

A3 architecten

A rigid and closed office building from the reconstruction years has been transformed into accessible apartments and high-quality patio homes. By making smart use of an existing concrete grid, an old facade has been elevated to a powerful architecture that fits seamlessly into the inner city fabric.

It was the solution to the enormous vacancy of offices that were vacant due to the crisis. At the same time, it would ease the housing pressure in the cities. In short, the transformation of vacant commercial buildings into homes has been a hot topic within the architecture world over the past ten years. The question was: how? After all, striking examples of offices that have been transformed into homes were scarce; moreover, every office building is different. But the Jansbuitensingel 24 residential complex in Arnhem, completed this summer, is an insightful - and successful - case study in many ways. A rigid and closed office building from the reconstruction years has been transformed into 35 accessible apartments and 5 high-quality patio homes on the ground floor.

The concrete elements are the visible supports of the facade and provide it with a contemporary grid, with which the ugly duckling of the stately canal has been promoted to a striking eye-catcher

Geometrical puzzle

The rear facade is constructed from the same rectangular concrete elements. Although it was not decided to deepen the façade here, the striking grid continues to define the image. Bestman: “The concrete elements have been cleaned up so that they have a light color. The rectangles themselves are filled with tilting windows in dark aluminum frames. The space between the concrete parts is filled with sheet material in the same dark color as the window frames. The geometric grid is turned on by this combination of light and dark. ” As the entrance to the apartments is at the back of the building, a steel and concrete structure is attached to the facade with the stairs and gallery. “The metal construction also has the dark color again, while the concrete floor parts are light. The railing is made of glass, which gives a calm image. The construction of the building consists of concrete floors with load-bearing columns. Because the concrete facade frames have been left intact, the front doors are not directly above each other. The front doors had to be placed between frames so that the layout of the apartments changes per floor. Although the building consists of open floors, the construction of the pipes and drainage of the houses was therefore an intricate puzzle.

Higher segment

On the ground floor, there are five patio homes, which are closed at the front and open at the back. The patios are sunk into the old office roof and placed in such a way that there is maximum light, while the view from the apartments above is minimized. The noise nuisance from the railway at the rear is also limited by the sheltered location of the patios. The patios are covered with panels in the same light color as the aluminum windows, which gives a calm appearance. “You can see that residents have hung up lights and placed planters. They feel invited to make the building their own. ” Jansbuitensingel offers a diverse range of housing that suits the inner-city living environment of Arnhem, which is no longer the reconstruction city of yesteryear but a popular place to live. This requires dynamic and diverse housing typologies. By leaving the functional parts of the building intact, such as the floors, columns, and outer wall, the houses can be offered for attractive rents. At the same time, the spacious patio houses also provide for the higher segment. By enlarging an existing quality - a characteristic grid facade - the building acquires the recognisability that suits a residential complex. “You can see the building from afar in the street. That gives the residents a sense of individuality, which hopefully makes them think: that is my home. ” An outdated office building has been upgraded into a contemporary residential complex that fits seamlessly into the inner city fabric. Moreover, it meets modern energy requirements through the smart placement of solar panels on the roof. It is not disguised that this is an existing building that is getting a new lease of life. By making smart use of the existing potential, worn-out architecture has been elevated to an efficient yet attractive residential building. Light and noise standards have been met by making optimal use of the open facade structure. Indeed, a successful case study for inner-city transformation.

Fabricator: 
Blitta
Architects: 
A3 architecten
Location: 
Arnhem, the Netherlands