As an urban designer in employment of the Projectbureau Ypenburg, for two years between 1999 and 2001, I worked on ‘De Grote Hof’ a section of Ypenburg. Ypenburg, now part of The Hague, is a so-called ‘Vinex’ district, a country seat extension near a Dutch city, developed at the end of the twentieth century. The creation of a district as a non-segregational residential area with amenities originated, in line with Dutch tradition, under close supervision of the government.
For the 246 homes in the area of De Venen, stretching from the village of Nootdorp to the A 12 Motorway, we collaborated with Palmboom & van den Bout, supervisor of the urban Masterplan Ypenburg. Rapp+Rapp architects, commissioned by Rabo Vastgoed, was selected through an invited competition to coordinate the architectural design of the courtyard block.
My mission is to support the plan by an urban design research, addressing the urban typology of the courtyard block, typical of the city The Hague. The essential urban quest is how to shape the transition from public to private space and vice versa, uncommonly different from the obvious front-back orientation along a street. On a larger scale my concern is to guide and guard the transition of the building block and the environment, both inside and outside the courtyards. This reflects in the design of the public space boundaries; The access to the building block by fast and slow traffic; The design of the bridges; The access to the homes; The spaciousness of a sense of safety; The routing for inhabitants from and to their homes, through the built parking space and the outside world.
The block as such is framed by a canal that is part of the delicate water system of De Venen. The closed square shaped canal is one of the indicators that bring out the architectural character. Furthermore plenty of pragmatic spatial issues are to be solved architecturally, such as built parking space, infrastructural matters, fire safety measures and access for emergency services. Invoked by the holding space of the courtyard block Rapp+Rapp architects accomplish tremendously creative orientations of the dwellings, both formal and functional. The design process of the urban block results in one large rectangular urban space, the other four being square and more intimate. Two squares open up to transitional areas.
Photographs were taken in 2013 and 2020 respectively.