Energy-efficiency contest in Frankfurt


Nausassiche Heimstadt claims to have build the very first plus energy-apartment building in Germany in Frankfurt Riedberg, a large new housing area on the northern outskirts of the city.

Both the tilted roof and the closed parts of the south façade are completely covered in Photovoltaic cells which provide the single energy source of the full electric building. The building, which has a peculiar shape, due to the site, contains 17 apartments in different sizes.

The nicest part of the building is the light and spatial central staircase. German fire regulations did not require a second or closed staircase, therefor the architects could make an open staircase with light from above.

A lot of technical spaces are integrated under the roof and in the basement: rooms for batteries,  air treat system, heating system, etcetera. An underground ice storage is used to warm air and water for household use. The apartments are  equipped with floor heating and heat recovery ventilation.
An underground parking is provided for ten electric cars. Calculations show that the building generates an energy surplus that could facilitate ten electrical cars to drive 13.000 km per year.

Building an  ‘energie-plus-geschoss-haus’  is a complicated assignment. This project is not an apartment building with additional installation technique, but a consistent design in which well integrated technique.  If the building fulfils its promises, then it shows that in order to build energy efficient, architectural concessions are not necessary in order to reach the energetic ambition.

Interesting is to mention that the competitive housing corporation of Frankfurt is building an even bigger ‘activ-stadt- haus’ in de centre of Frankfurt. If housing corporations compete with each other like this, these type of experiments can generate new integrated concepts and hopefully evolve into architecturally attractive mature energy efficient buildings.

Köln – Buchheimerweg


Also in Germany the renewal of postwar residential areas is a major challenge. The solution that has been realized in the Siedlung Köln Buchheimerweg is seen as a successful example throughout Germany.

The incorporation of 434 new homes in the existing fabric has been done very subtly.  The area has been densified, but you hardly notice it. The new buildings are also subtly different. The slightly bent blocks are positioned slightly closer together. The bent blocks provide a stronger defined space without breaking the open layout.

The green space has been redesigned with a high quality and a clever solution to the expensive German parking ratio of 1 car per house. In public space a number of parkingspaces is defined as a reserve zone. This zone can be used as a playground for the time being, as long as car ownership among the low income group that lives in the building does not increase. Not-Dutch is also the scale; 434 apartments in 18 identical-looking 4-storey buildings. Typically Dutch strategies as the introduction of more differentiation in price, ownership and typology are also not addressed. The same people still live there, and the social rent is not increased. The area seems to function quite well.

Architect: ASTOC Architects and Planners
Client: GAG Immobilien AG
Landscapedesign: jbbug johannes böttger büro urbane gestalt, Landschaftsarchitekten

Köln – Baufreunden


Baufreunden, a project of office03, is one of the first building-group projects in Köln. The architects, who also live in the project, have aimed for quality in the typology, stacked wide maisonettes with either a garden or a roof terrace. In addition, they have drawn a few smart, simple rules for the facade. With the introduction of two windowtypes there was freedom of choice for residents and a consistent overall facadedesign. The inhabitants have made their own floorplans with or without the help of the architect.

For these architects it was the first time to work for a building-group. Around a hundred evening meetings have been necessary to achieve this convincing result. Now, they ask themselves whether they want to do this type of intense process again, especially if it doesn’t generate more quality and such an intense process is not profitable for the architect. The question is how democratic a process should be to achieve the advantages of building groups: more participation, quality and social cohesion and lower costs.
We will also visit Tübingen, this city has a lot of experience with this phenomenon. We wonder what insights we gain there.

Trip 2: The German Midfield


ANA goes Europe continues with a trip through the German midfield. From May 26th – 29th 2015 we will be heading for about 25 projects, talking to clients, inhabitants, architects, teachers, builders and officials. Several housing themes are interesting in Germany.

Intergenerational Housing
Germany is the most aged country in Europe; 20,6 % of the population is over 65. The country is transforming into a new welfare state. Intergenerational solidarity is the leading theme of the German policy. This is also translated in new housing concepts. We will visit several of these ‘Mehrgenerations’ projects.

Housing in shrinking & growing Towns
Germany has been dealing with shrinking towns for more than ten years and has developed interesting strategies for transformation of existing buildings and areas. At the same time Germany has  ‘Schwarmstädter’, cities that grow and densify. We will visit both sides of Germany. We will visit Halle (Neustadt) and Leinefelde that where both part of the Stadtumbau program. And we will visit Freiburg and Frankfurt, two fast growing cities.

Sustainable Housing
Germany is leading in Europe when it comes to sustainable energy policy. Already 25% of German energy is gained from sustainable resources. In the building and housing industry this has led to interesting new concepts and experiments, such as energyplus-appartments that we will visit in Frankfurt.

Bottom Up Housing
The active citizen, a hot topic in the Netherlands has determined big parts of German cities already for some time. Tübingen is one of the more extreme and known examples of the self build town. We will have a look how this city is developing further after several successful experiments.

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The future of single family housing


This winter it was too cold to go out camping with the ANA goes Europe camper. So, when we had the opportunity to visit Bavaria in the South of Germany in order to meet local stakeholders in housing and architecture at the 13th Coburger Wohnbautag, we took the plane instead and gave a lecture on our ideas and experience on the theme of this day: The future of single family housing.

The single family home
In Germany as well as in the Netherlands, in the second part of the 20th century the family home has been considered to be the ideal way of living.
In the Netherlands we have single family homes in all sorts, varying from the very small workers homes in 19th century urban areas, to the wide and light ones from the early seventies, the cheap and narrow ones from the eighties and the technically better, but spatially similar ones from the nineties.
The last period of massive rowhouse production, the VINEX,  is just behind us. The economic crisis of 2008 has forced us to stop and rethink this ambition to produce as many as possible cheap houses in the outskirts of the city, for the better.
Also Germany has a lot of Einfamilienhäuser, especially from the period 1950-1970’s. Unlike  the dominant presence of the rowhouse in the Netherlands (60% of all households live in a rowhouse), in Germany the detached house is the most common typology for single family dwellings.

Lecture at the 13th Coburger Wohnbautag


Smaller households
In both countries a lot has changed. Society today looks totally different compared to the fifties, sixties and seventies. The traditional family, of a couple with two kids, has become a rare minority in a very diverse population.
In the Netherlands the two-parents family forms only 28% of all households. In Germany this is even less: 26%. Clearly, part of this development is caused by the aging population. But apart from that there are many other developments that create smaller households. We have less kids and we have them later. Present day young generations are even worse in guaranteeing offspring. Forming long term relationships is more and more problematic for the very demanding, hedonistic and young generations. That is what Jan Latten, professor social demographics at the University of Amsterdam has stated at the Expeditie Begonia, an inspiration day on ‘living variations for the elderly’ organized by Actiz Aedes. This results in less children on the long term. Divorce also adds to the increase of small households. In 1970 20% of marriages ended in divorce within 20 years, in 1995 this percentage has risen to 25%. [i]
You can imagine the consequence: huge under occupied family homes inhabited by lonely singles in neighborhoods that are fully equipped for the young family but totally not suitable for the aging singles (and couples).

reprogramming the new familyhome

reprogramming the new familyhome

Microliving and /or collective living
We need smaller homes, less to maintain less to pay for, more practical, more affordable.Of course we can fill the cities with mini apartments, container homes, plugin towers etcetera, but this leaves us with two important questions. How do we organize social interaction and prevent loneliness? What are we going to do with the enormous amount of single family homes we have built in the recent decades?

German experiences
In Bavaria the Bayerisches Staatsministerium des Innen, für Bau und Verkehr has initiated a modellproject ‘Revitalisierung von Einfamilienhausgebieten’. In three towns in Bavaria strategies are being researched and tested. Manuela Skorka of planungsbüro Skorka works on these three pilot projects and presented her findings at the 13th Coburger Wohnbautag.The developed strategies are aimed at the aging population, taking away barriers, creating meeting points, adjusting the housing stock and develop new housingprojects more suitable for elderly.The results are not visible yet, since the project is still in the development stage.

Waterwijk Almere

Waterwijk Almere

Case Almere Waterwijk
With the research team ‘Grijstinten in de tussenmaat’ we have been working on this theme in Almere Waterwijk, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Almere.  Waterwijk is very homogenous: 70% of the houses is owner occupied, 83% is a rowhouse. Waterwijk is expected to age strongly in the coming years. A lot of the first inhabitants of Waterwijk are still living there. Their children have grown and moved out on their own, leaving the parents alone in their single family home. The municipality of Almere has turned Waterwijk into a pilotarea for seniorproof living. They have asked the team of Grijstinten to think of strategies to deal with the existing housing stock in a strongly aging neighborhood.

Waterwijk Almere- demographics

Waterwijk Almere- demographics

In several workshops with inhabitants over 55 we have been discussing possible strategies. Immediate problems can be solved with simple adjustments such as stair elevators, but this still leaves future generations with a big problem. The amount of families in all of Almere will decrease, there is very little supply for smaller households. So there is a need for a long term and top down transformation strategy. We have introduced the ‘Waterwijk Neigborhood Cooperative’. This Cooperative can provide loans to facilitate individual adjustments. The cooperative can gradually buy, transform and sell or let existing rowhouses. Banks, municipality, private investors and the house owners can become shareholders in this cooperative that will also facilitate where necessary the social infrastructure in Waterwijk.  In the coming period the project will be developed further.

Pilot cases have started on different sites as stated above.  Some municipalities feel already the urgency to think about the future of existing single family housing areas. Hopefully these pilots will deliver useful and workable strategies that can be used in the many older single family housing areas we have in the Netherlands that face aging and downsizing households in the near future. Apart from that, these pilots should also feed awareness in new building programs. It is awkward to see the municipality of Almere think about adjusting family housing in one neighborhood and facilitating the building of large amounts of these types in other areas.

[i] Veranderingen in samenlevingsvormen en consequenties voor de woonbehoefte, presentatie door Jan Latten op Expeditie Begonia, 24 maart 2015.