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In a world were population grows constantly but the construction terrain remains the same, architects have to deal with a lack of space and therefore come up with ingenious solutions of saving and managing it, to make the most out of it and provide the employers with something worthy of buying and living in.
There are of course two main housing solutions: the apartment, a rather small but sufficient space for living and the house which according to everyones pocket can vary in size and equipment. Somewhere in between these two categories is a third one which combines the two and provides us with an alternative: collective housing. It’s almost like having an apartment with a garden and a parking space and neighbors from which you are not necessarily separated by a fence but neither by just a wall. Intimacy levels are somehow medium.
Located underneath an expressway in Hilversum, Netherlands, The Cyclops is a residential project that was at first criticized but has turned out to be rather welcoming and comfortable. The problems were given naturally by the express road which could create a safety hazard for inhabitants and minimize the comfort level through the noise it would cause. The clients however bought their houses after seeing them only on a drawing board, ling time before they were finished. The architects have overcome the drawbacks given by the site.
More details from the architects:
“The twelve houses form an integral part of a soundproof embankment along a secondary road from Diependaal, an exclusive residential district in the woods of Hilversum. Despite its inhospitable setting and the clients initial skepticism, the futuristic, not to say fantastic, design of the houses attracted users who bought their houses of the drawing board, several years before delivery.”
There was also an issue concerning lighting. At the back of the complex there would have been a lack of natural light, another setback for the designers. The solution was to create cantilevers in front on the first floor, each house having a consoled living room. Despite the giant green plane in front of the complex, none of the residences has its own garden but when you are presented with so much public green space just outside your home, you don’t really need it.
“In Hilversum, as in any fantastic setting, a house can be both a cavern and a giant, a term that could just as easily refer to the block of flats opposite. The residents are all explorers who are just passing through, threatened by poisonous rays and nostalgic for a place of peace and unspoiled nature that only a handful of neo-modernistic architects, obsessed by the American subculture and pessimistic prophecies, still dare to denounce publicly.”
The design itself is not extraordinary but when multiplied twelve times it provides the site with some amount of personality. I was particularly impressed with the way the architects have resolved the seemingly impossible problem of the near road which at first sight would sound like a question without answer for many designers.
Photo courtesy to the architects
Architects: NIO architecten
Project: The Cyclops
Location: Charley Tooropstraat, Hilversum, HOLLAND
Design: VHP s+a+l/NIO architecten
Client: Slokker Vastgoed bv
Contractor: Slokker Bouwgroep bv
Structural engineer: Adviesbureau Steens
Design team: Remco Arnold, Eric Lucas, Maurice Nio, Jaakko van ’t Spijker
Start design: 1997
Costs: € 1.495.450,00
Software used: Arkey and Autocad to draw/model this project