Alexianer Quartier Neuss
In 2017 we were asked to join the design team, led by Henk Döll (Döll Architecten), for the competition of the landscape design and urban plan of 35-40 houses in Neuss (DE). The other team members were Lola landscape design and Magnus Weightman. The plan is part of a bigger development called Alexianer Quartier, which contains mostly housing. We won the competition at the beginning of 2018.
"Low-cost housing with the highest possible architectural quality"
This was one of the most important demands set out in the competition as a reaction to the cities ambition to build affordable housing. With our contribution, we have tried to solve this problem not only by trying to reach a high architectural quality, but also by optimizing the urban design. The central question is how to create an attractive mixed residential area with specific qualities for people in different phases of their lives.
Construction site H1 is located in the middle of a suburban district with individual housing, between the monastery park and the residential district Meertal, and connected to a fine-meshed footpath network. At the same time, the building plot H1 communicates between three-storey terraced houses and apartments in the north and small-scale two to three-storey detached houses in the south.
Concept: optimization urban design and collective public space
First of all, we have picked up and reinterpreted the original idea of a “farm yard”, which unfortunately is very rare these days in urban design. The building blocks are reorganized around three collective courtyards. The houses directly adjoining the courtyards have a kitchen next to the entrance from where you can overlook the “yard”, which creates a sense of “warm homecoming” for the residents. Of course the collective courtyards will be used for parking but there also will be space left for a playground and a collective seating area around a big tree. Moreover, with all the houses having one parking place on their own plot the yards will be completely free of cars at times and function as a one big village square. The northern terraced and semi-detached houses are also part of the site, but are more oriented to the east-west access road to strengthen the atmosphere of a quiet residential street.
The compact, modernistic white blocks and the great amount of collective space refer to a traditional German “Siedlung”.
Outdoor facilities and materials: attractive open spaces and private gardens
The collective courtyards are treated as one room from facade to façade. The private front garden areas are clearly defined but are designed in a way that they are united with the public space. The transition between private and public space is subtly marked by barely visible linear drainage channels. The outflowing rainwater is led to the retention areas.
In each courtyard there is a small collective space to play and come together. The basic idea is that further activities in each yard can be worked out together with the residents. For example a playground for small children, a boule facility, a collective vegetable garden or a beer garden. Cohesive design strengthens social cohesion.
Unlike the courtyards, the private gardens are fenced of by colorful mixed hedges. The hedges consist of beech, privet, blackthorn, hawthorn and field maple. This diversity of species creates hedges that look colorful in all seasons. In addition, these hedges have an ecological added value, as they provide a source of food and a safe breeding ground for animals (insects, birds, butterflies, hedgehogs). Also a tree is planted in each garden, which can be selected by the residents from a range of five ecologically valuable species.
From the front garden area the bicycle storage room is directly reachable next to the front door of the house. The storage space for dumpsters is located on the other side, directly under the kitchen window and integrated in the facade. Above this space is a herb garden, from the kitchen you can easily harvest the fresh herbs through the window.
Facade design, materiality and construction
The repetition of the apartment types, together with the effective and compact form, lead to a cost-efficient design. The sizes of the windows are standardized as much as possible but in the composition of the facades we searched for a balance between repetition and deviation. A few accents make the individual apartments easy to read and recognizable.
The materiality of the facade is characterized by a thermal insulation composite system with a white, smooth, mineral plaster. The windows are made of a wood-aluminum construction with triple glazing. The entrance areas and the front of the dumpster storage have a wood paneling in umbra gray, a color that fits well into the color scheme of the light natural clinkers on the street. The roof terraces have a wooden surface and the houses have green roofs to improve the micro-climate, to keep the apartments cool in summer and to delay the rainwater infiltration process.
Type A - ca. 110 sqm
Type B - ca. 125 sqm
Type C - ca. 150 sqm
In collaboration with:
Urban plan, Landscape design, Housing
40 Houses, 1 ha
Houses 110 sqm to 150 sqm
Niels Olivier, Henk Döll,
Frantisek Hanf, Robin-Jay King