• Competition
  • Utrecht
  • NL
  • 1996

Ledig Erf area can be characterized as a typical urban site; a transfer zone between suburbia and the inner city, programmatically occupied by an unspecified but self-evident mixture of living, production en commerce. The competition site itself is spatially clearly defined by the typical combination of influential large-scale elements like water, roads and bridges and the characteristic small-scale and transparent urban structure of small individual blocks, separated by alleys.

The project (STRUCTURE/CONSUMPTION/APPEARANCE) explores the possibilities of these existing spatial and programmatic qualities in order to develop an urban scheme that establishes the urban potential of this particular site and to develop as well a suitable architectural typology for urban areas like this in general.

The urban scheme is defined by the existing spatial structure of the area. It conforms to the existing building-line, which is related to the course of the water and roads, and it continues the existing transparent urban structure of individual blocks on to the site. The serial character of the urban structure demonstrates the historical continuity and the spatial unity of the urban scheme, while the transparency of the structure defines the independence of the separated new blocks. The alleys and inner areas between the blocks are related to the collective urban space, revealing parts of the city, which are normally hidden for the public. The intervention establishes the typical quality of the existing spatial structure on the site, while transforming it to an urban scale.

Several concrete structures (6) are projected on the site, clearly defined in form, height and position, conforming to the urban scheme. The concrete floors, beams, walls and columns of every single structure define different unfinished individual spaces (31) with a height of at least five meters, some of them partly sunken in the ground and others high up in the air, as well as shafts for stairs (finished with stainless steel), elevators (finished with stainless steel & red plush) and conducts.

The individual spaces could be occupied by any function, business or person (apartment, shop, restaurant, fitnessclub, office, brothel, gallery, studio, boardinghouse, cinema, bar, library, …); there are no programmatical restrictions. The different interiors are designed and finished according to the specific demands of the program and the individual taste and wishes of the occupants, using any material but concrete. The height of the spaces offers the opportunity of an extra floor.

The exterior of the concrete structures are severally clad with brick (4) or glass (2), all basements are clad with glass. The brick establishes the continuity with the existing buildings, the glass demonstrates the independence of the separated buildings. The classical structure and tectonics of the facades express the separated buildings as a self-contained collective form, while the specific insertion of windows (according to the specific demands of the program and the individual taste and wishes of the occupants), the transparency of the glass facades (partly sandblasted) and the projected images and messages on the brick walls reflect the individuality of the different spaces within the building.