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Dwelling Fields

Part 1 Dissertation 2005
Claire Harper
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
Dwelling Fields
The interpolation of landscape data in the architecture of mass housing: a study of residential landscapes in the Netherlands.


Since the end of the Second World War, the Dutch have built 4 million new dwellings, many of which have attracted international recognition, and nationally, have had a fundamental impact on the appearance of the Netherlands. In 1994, the need for a further 1 million new homes was announced, challenging architects and planners to create new solutions to mass housing to avoid the very real threat of carpeting the Netherlands with houses. (van Dijk, 1994).

The artificial Netherlands’ topography has provided a unique study for the development of new housing strategies. In the same way that agricultural reform denoted a new structure for the countryside, the same Functionalist approach has been applied to land colonised for housing. This has resulted in efficient, densely developed residential typologies that are becoming landscape prototypes for rural Holland.

The landscapes that are emerging are manifestations of the underlying social and political milieu that has effected this housing demand. Increased prosperity in society, state withdrawal from housing provision and the trend towards social conservatism has generated a demand for housing that responds qualitatively to modern lifestyles. That is: a single-family dwelling in the countryside, with a front and back garden and a garage for the car.

The effect has been the creation of a new landscape that is neither urban nor rural, but residential. This study interprets the impact of mass housing development and the extent to which it is transforming the appearance of the landscape. The housing districts that have been documented denote new prototypes for contemporary dwelling that are being duplicated, both in the Netherlands and abroad as exemplars of efficient residential design.

Claire Harper


This is an extremely well researched dissertation, which was developed out of a period in Placement in the Netherlands. Although new housing in the Netherlands has been well documented, this dissertation develops a new theme through the analysis of landscape and housing. The fact that the land is also constructed, means that the housing and land can both be seen as part of the design. Landscape as Housing: Housing as Landscape.

The dissertation is structured around a number of different land and urban forms; island, polder, suburb. As much of this is very recent, the work is original and significant in its analysis.

2005
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