#3 Parisferique c’est magnifique


ANA goes Europe continues! 
Op 8 oktober vertrekken we naar La Métropole du Grand Paris. Het is de derde onderzoeksreis op rij, eerdere etappes leidde naar Duitsland, Denemarken, Zweden en Noorwegen.

Franse thema’s
We richten ons vizier op Frankrijk omdat het als een van de grootste en meest invloedrijke landen van de Europese Unie ingrijpende veranderingen kent. Groeiende ongelijkheid is op dit moment in Frankrijk een van de belangrijkste politieke thema’s. Is de tweedeling tussen arm en rijk, kansarm en kansrijk, in de stad zichtbaar? We zijn benieuwd hoe deze ongelijkheid in de Franse steden is opgelost en hoe er oplossingen zijn gevonden voor verdere verdichting van de metropolitane regio. Welke woonkwaliteiten worden gerealiseerd in gebieden met hoge dichtheid? Hoe zijn betaalbare woningen en aantrekkelijke alternatieven voor de middenklasse vormgegeven?

Tijdens de voorbereiding van deze reis spraken we met Nederlandse stakeholders over hun visie op de woningbouwopgave van de toekomst en over de vragen die ze ons willen meegeven op reis. In Parijs spreken we o.a. met ontwikkelaar Paris Batignolles over verdichtingsprojecten langs de Boulevard Périphérique. Met Archi5 architectes bezoeken we een aantal invulprojecten die zijn gebouwd in hout. Architect Julien Beller zal ons vertellen over vluchtelingenhuisvesting en de impact die dat heeft op de stad. We praten met Jean Christophe Masson over de woonkwaliteit van hoogbouw. En we ontmoeten Paris Habitat, de grootste verhuurder van sociale woningbouw. Manager Urban Planning Department van de regio Noisy-le-Grand ontvangt ons om te praten over de stadsvernieuwing in Palacio d’Abraxas, een megalomaan woningbouwpaleis van de Spaanse architect Ricardo Bofill, gebouwd in 1982.

Op: https://anagoeseurope.wordpress.com/  en onze Facebookpagina en ArchiNed. lees je verslagen van eerdere bezoeken en kun je onze bevindingen in La Métropole du Grand Paris volgen.

ANA goes Europe is een reis door Europa in etappes. Sinds 2014 onderzoekt ANA architecten de woningbouwopgave van de toekomst en de bijdrage die architecten daaraan kunnen leveren. Voor #3 Parisferique! C’est magnifique? heeft ANA een financiële bijdrage ontvangen van het Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie.




Göteborg in the mix


Göteborg is a beautiful, vibrant city, yet it is also a socially and functionally segregated city. In order to accommodate the expected growth of the population, the city of Göteborg has made a vision. In the vision ‘Göteborg Rivercity’, the city has formulated the ambition to transform Göteborg in a city for everyone. ‘Rivercity Göteborg therefore needs to provide a mix of housing, enterprises, jobs, uses and public places that provide room for different expressions.’

The way in which Göteborg wants to achieve this is interesting. By involving the people of the city, but also professionals and institutes like the Chalmers University the city wants to make sustainable plans for the future development of Göteborg. Up until now they are doing that very well. The vision document is filled with pictures of workshops and quotes from the citizens. The big question is if they will succeed in keeping everybody involved and creating truly mixed areas in the building projects as well.


Typical Swedish housing in Kvillebacken

We have talked to Anna Braide Eriksson, a researcher on housing who teaches at Chalmers university. Chalmers is very involved in the development of the city. Students participate in the development of the city, for example in workshops on Frihamnen, one of the most prestigious development areas on the west bank of the river Älv. Chalmers also participates in ‘real’ projects as a knowledge partner. One of the examples is the project ‘Positive footprint housing’.
Anna is both positive and sceptical. She is very positive about the ambitions of the city, especially in regard to other cities in Sweden. However, she is quite sceptical when it’s about the potential result of this involvement. As an example she mentions Kvillebacken, where the ambitions of the city in order to create a mixed, but delicate and nuanced development of the area were not achieved. The small scale mix of social groups and small businesses that characterised the old area totally disappeared and, according to Anna, have now been replaced by the generic Swedish buildingtypology of 7 to 8 stories apartments.


Typical Swedish courtyard in Kvillebacken

We also spoke to Josefine Wikholm and Susanne Clase of White architects, one of the largest architecture firms in Sweden. They emphasize that Göteborg needs better functional, social and economical mixed areas and therefor more typological diversity. Both architects live with families in typical Swedish apartments. They immediately add that luckily they also have a weekend house to get out of the dense city and small living space.

It is interesting that White has been acting as an initiator and developer of new typologies. In one of the Millionprogram areas, called Frölunda in the outskirts of Göteborg, they have developed the project ‘Äppelträdgården’. Together with the builder FO Peterson they have realized 19 terraced patiohouses for rent and sale.  This development was not completely without risks, but White found it very important to develop these new typologies and show that this innovation could actually improve the quality of the neighbourhood. For this project they won the Swedish Housing Award 2011.


New typologies at Äppelträdgården

Göteborg will select the first parties for development of Frihamnen this autumn. Frihamnen will be ‘the testbed for socially sustainable development’. Here the city wants to provide possibilities for new ways of living. It will be very interesting to follow the outcome of this process and see if these possibilities are taken up by developers and architects to generate new urban typologies and new living concepts.

Terraced patiohousing at Äppelträdgården

Terraced patiohousing at Äppelträdgården

Norway, the downside of growth


Oslo is the fastest growing major city of Europe. The city grows 2% each year and has grown 17% in the last 15 years.
The urbanisation process is relatively new in Norway, were living with nature is in the genes of the people.  But work has brought people to the city, and the city has to provide houses for those who want to move in. The unemployment rate in Norway is very low. Although some people fear a collapsing  bubble after the oil, most people don’t worry too much about the economy, Norway has oil and huge reserves from that. Oslo is ranked number one in terms of quality of life, among European large cities in the European Cities of the future 2012 report by fDi magazine. It is also the second most expensive city in the world, in terms of living expenses (after Tokio).

But there is definitely a downside to this positive story. Building production cannot keep up with the population growth. Therefor the prizes of land and houses are continuously rising. Developers, contractors and also architects make good business in this context. But to build houses that people can afford the tendency is to build smaller and denser. Of course the municipality is trying to regulate this, but the fact is that a family apartment is almost unaffordable for a regular family. One can imagine that lower income families are all pushed to the outer neighbourhoods of the city, whereas the new harbour front developments that form the main part of the city’s building land become inhabited by higher incomes and smaller households.

We have visited Sørenga, one of the newest development areas along the harbour front, close to the Opera and still under construction. Here you can buy a bigger apartment of 110m2 or even 140m2, but the costs are extremely high: 9.900.000 NK for 113m2 (ca. 1,1 miljoen euro).


Housing in Sørenga

Since the newly build areas are all very much concentrated along the Fjord this automatically leads to stronger segregation in the city. The new areas are hardly mixed in social terms and lack real life. This is also one of the points of critique in the debate among professionals and the public in Oslo. One of the representatives of this opinion is Johnny Aspen, associated professor at the Oslo architecture school, who  talks about ‘zombie urbanism’.

The regulations for building housing in Norway are also quit strict. Bathrooms, master bedrooms and storage space in the apartment are all defined in minimum size. One of the consequences of this is, according to all the architects we have spoken is that, especially in the big mass of smaller apartments, one ends up with relatively big bathrooms, bedrooms and storagerooms and a very tiny living space with a big kitchen and just enough room for a sofa.

Another consequence is that the new areas are very dense. It is obvious that a lot of these very expensive apartments hardly get any sun, especially considering the low position of the sun in Olso. The Barcode project seems to beat all records. Although the area contains mainly office buildings, there are some housing slabs in this masterplan. MAD architects have designed an apartment slab in this area. They have tried to optimize living qualities by making very thin apartments with long facades, but these facades are rather closed and very shaded due to the urban plan. Apparently this is all well accepted in the tight housing market of Oslo. Bu it is also no wonder that all Norwegians dream of a small weekend house in the countryside, and in the middle and upper class the majority has one.


Green House

Green House

There are some other more positive stories to tell about Oslo. In terms of densifying the city the work of developer Infill is interesting. Infill limits itself to develop the leftover spaces, the holes in the city’s fabric. On these tiny spots they develop attractive architecture and high living qualities. All their projects have serious roof terraces with real grass, real trees in real soil. We visited the project Green House, that was designed by Element architects. This building definitely adds quality to the neighbourhood. A zone around the building on street level integrates private outdoor spaces, but also public benches and therefor generates interaction with its surroundings. The projects of Infill do not offer more m2 for less money unfortunatly, because they have to work within the same land prize system, but they do add quality and diversity to existing older neighbourhoods.

green house roof

Green House roof terrace

green house interaction

Green House

After bigness?


The years 2000-2010 were a period of making big money on big  projects in Copenhagen. A time in which also Ørestad started to be developed. Everything in Ørestad is big! The blocks, the roads, the spaces. Far too big according to the general opinion of people in Copenhagen, both professionals and citizens.  Too big, both in terms of size and in terms of architectural attitude, in which the main focus seemed to have been on creating architectural icons instead of making a dynamic, vibrant city.

From this point of view, an interesting shift is now taking place. The attention in urban development  is now changing. The city architect of Copenhagen, Tina Saaby, told us that in the booming period her department used to focus on the quality of architecture. These days however, the attention is being directed to the interaction of buildings with its surroundings. The objective is much more than before to create more livable areas with dynamic ground floors.

This ambition now becomes visible in a few small-scale developments in some of the new areas. In Islandsbrygge for example we observed some low rise semidetached housing immediately next to few big towers. These row houses appeared to be still a bit lost, they didn’t really create a lively, dynamic new urban fabric. Also in Amager, along the newly made Amager beach, lowrise is being built among highrise towers. Apart from the poor architectonical quality (the attention seemed to have gone to other issues indeed) also here it is hard to imagine  a dynamic, vibrant neighborhood where interaction takes place on ground level.

KAB, the main housing-association in the Copenhagen area, state that projects should not be too big. They have a lot experiences with large estates, such as Farum Midpunkt, that were built in de sixties and seventies. Both from a cost-efficiency and socio-democratic point of view, these estates exist of hundreds of dwellings of the same typology and size. Now times have changed, it appears that with the big scale of the projects, also the problems in the areas are blown up. And the large scale makes it hard to get proposals for improvement through the tenants democracy procedures. Therefore, KAB now aims to build smaller scale projects.

With the projects, also the architectural offices have become bigger in the last decades. Due to the central and important position of the architect in building processes, for an architectural office it is fairly impossible to obtain new projects when the size of the office is under a certain minimum size. The architect is involved in the whole process, up to the controlling during the execution of the building. As a result, offices have to be able to offer a wide range of advice, varying from urban planning, design, to projecting and controlling. According to Jens Kvorning, professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen and specialized in the history and culture of the city planning in Copenhagen, this is why only a few big firms execute the far biggest part of the architectural assignment in Denmark. In Copenhagen, few firms with more than 350 employees are involved in the main part of the projects being build. But also midsize firms, such as Vandkunsten, founded in the seventies, has for a long time been a midsize firm with app. 20 employees, but recently grew to app. 55 persons. Also young offices will only survive when they grow big. For instance COBE has grown to 65 people within 5 years.

The question is if and how Copenhagen can organize smaller scale developments and a better interaction between buildings and urban context. In this respect, planners, architects, the municipality and clients are very interested in the developments that take place in Amsterdam, where  new developments have a smaller scale and where new players in new roles get possibilities to develop new, specific living concepts. This is very appealing to all the people we spoke to in Copenhagen. But at the same time they stated that such a development would be very hard to achieve since the city doesn’t own any of the land and therefor has limited say in the way new areas are developed. Maybe we can organize an exchange of experience between the Danes and the Dutch to inspire the Danes to strengthen small scale developments and the interaction between buildings and public life. In exchange we think the Dutch will be inspired by the way Danish housing associations and architects manage to achieve high quality housing while reducing the costs up to 20%!

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Islandsbrygge large (left) and small (right) developments

Islandsbrygge large (left) and small (right) developments



Amager strandpark highrise seen from the new Amager beach

Amager strandpark highrise seen from the new Amager beach

Amager strandpark - lowrise between the towers

Amager strandpark – lowrise between the towers