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Jacques Perkstraat

Hengelo

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votes: 1

Kasbah Housing

Designers: Piet Blom

A wonderful chaos, vitality and a whole range of opportunities to bump into someone for once. Piet Blom was one of the most impassioned propagandists of such a living environment. In the De Kasbah neighbourhood in Hengelo he realised his ideal.

The housing stands on pillars above the ground, and beneath this there is a collective space where urban and community life can evolve and flourish. With his ideas about ‘homes as an urban roof’, Blom was taking a stand against the rigid separation of functions and the belief in rationality which had determined the structure of the early post-war residential districts.

In the late 1960s, the Dutch government was having to deal with a growing wave of complaints concerning the facelessness of post-war residential developments. By way of a response, the Ministry for Housing and Spatial Planning introduced the ‘Experimental Housing’ subsidy scheme in 1968.

In 1969 architect Blom submits his Kasbah residential project for Hengelo for the new subsidy scheme. His proposal is accepted. Blom designs a residential area composed primarily of two levels, raised dwelling units on columns that form a continuous urban roof. The space below the columns is illuminated by openings in the ‘roof’; it was a large, communal area providing parking lots and space for recreational activities. Blom hopes that the development will inspire community interaction. His design achieves three to four times the residential density of an average suburban estate.

Each dwelling consists of a basic unit with living room, kitchen and bedrooms on a separate floor. The bedroom floor overlooks the living room via a mezzanine and could, according to Blom, also function as a studio or student unit. By adding rooms or doubling the basic unit, the dwelling could be of sufficient size to accommodate families. Although initially intended for the centre of Hengelo, the project ends up being built in the suburb of Groot-Driene between 1972-1974.

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