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Prinsenhof, Rotterdam

Part 2 Project 2012
Frederik Poll
Hogeschool Rotterdam Rotterdam The Netherlands

The graduation project consists of designing a housing block to be integrated into a space in Rotterdam’s historically rich city centre that has become spatially unsatisfactory since the end of the Second World War.

It was natural for me to start the design process by rationally define what factors or qualities bestow a building with immediate value and right to existence. The idea that certain buildings already exist when one is born and still exist when one dies, is what greatly fascinates me in architecture. The design process was directed by naming and deploying situational, cultural historical and architectural values.

Reconstructing and redefining the usage of the site completely, a large, unused square is eliminated, along with unattractive housing blocks and a car park. They’re replaced with a carefully constructed building, subservient to its surroundings in terms of shape, function and expression.

The building model is based on the typology of the classic Dutch Little Courtyard. The spatial quality (a quiet green oasis) and the social security (a semi-public, enclosed living environment) makes the courtyard a very attractive type of housing for the chosen, highly urban location. An architectural route leads through the building from the street past a passage, two contrasting courtyards and a hall up to private dwellings located on the first floor and above. Architectural elements, such as stairways, visual (dis)connections and site-specific materials, serve to naturally encourage and lead – or halt – people. Circulation, construction and facade form permanent elements of the building.

The finish of the two courtyards are designed to accentuate their different functions within the building – whereas the rigorous brickwork of the first, smaller courtyard continues the public character of the street, the white stucco finish of the second, larger courtyard creates a more domestic atmosphere. Located at the heart of the building, it does not reveal itself to the outer world; it makes a quiet and contemplative environment for the residents. Due to the closeness of the street facade the dwellings become very specific. Daylight is provided in an ingenious way by the use of skylights, patios and split levels.

Frederik Poll


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