|Work Type:||new built|
The Dutch architect, Johannes Hendrik Van den Broek, was one of the pioneers of flexible design. He argued that, through a more efficient organisation of a floor plan, including the integration of sliding walls and folding beds, the mass housing apartment typology could become smaller without the sacrifice of comfort. Working in collaboration with Heinrich Leppla he investigated the use-cycles of residential space, both at the level of daily change and at the level of change over time.
The 'Eendracht' project (1934) represents such a conscious attempt to deal with the complexities and changing nature of life. The skill lies in the overprovision of doors, which anticipate but do not determine division and occupation. The hall, a small space adjacent to the entrance in the centre of the plan, has three doors. One provides access to the kitchen, which is straight ahead. The other two doors, just next to each other with a short stretch of wall in-between them, access the same long space. The central elongated space of living / dining and study room can be divided into two separate rooms by means of sliding panels. The area next to the kitchen is dedicated to living and dining, the other area is designated as a study room (though over time these uses may change). The study room can be turned into a bedroom by folding down beds that are integrated.
On the other side of the this elongated space is a sequence of sliding wall that separates the dining and living room from a small room, a door, a short stretch of wall, another door (this mirrors the set up on the opposite side of the room) and then a longer partition wall. Behind the two doors is another small corridor, which has another four doors. One door provides access to the room next to the living and dining room, the second door is the door to the bathroom, the third door accesses a WC, and the fourth door opens into the only dedicated bedroom of the entire apartment. The over provision of doors enables the separate accessibility of each room as well as the bathroom. How the apartment and its spaces are used is then left to the interpretation of the inhabitants. A study of the building conducted by a sociologist in 1965, found that there were 24 different ways of organising activities within the space.
Rabeneck, A., D. Sheppard, and P. Town, 'Housing flexibility?' Architectural Design, 43, 1973, pp. 698-727.
Stroink, R., ed., Ir J.H. Van Den Broek - Projekten uit de Periode 1928-1948, Delft: Delftse Universitaire Pers, 1981.
Vanstiphout, W., Maak een stad : Rotterdam en de architectuur van J.H. van den Broek, Rotterdam: 010, 2005.