Radical Tabula RasaIn 2006, Atelier Kempe Thill is commissioned to design Block 10 in the Moerwijk neighborhood of The Hague with eighty-eight apartments and twenty-seven terraced houses as the result of a negotiation procedure by Vestia, the largest building corporation in the Netherlands.
Moerwijk is a typical restructuring area with residential buildings from the nineteen-sixties, as also exist in many large cities in the Netherlands. Also here, the city and housing corporations agreed on the comprehensive demolition of the entire area rather than renovation of the existing buildings. Commissioned to create the new urban development plan required was the firm KCAP, whose project is fundamentally based on the existing street and block structure. What is distinguishing here—as in the majority of comparable planning situations—is the fact that it is not possible to change the street grid due to the new necessary infrastructure, as well as the fact that such a large-scale operation would have to be realized in smaller steps of 150 to 250 residences. For this reason, the new development adheres nearly exactly to the old building lots, but with a substantial difference: the depth of the buildings has been increased from nine meters to approximately thirteen, and a new mix of apartments and terraced houses is created in place of the original development, consisting exclusively of apartments. The apartments thus stand on the edge of the area and form an “urban border,” while the terraced houses are located in the more intimate interior of the grid.
KCAP originally envisioned retaining two of the three-story apartment blocks in the heart of the area as a witness to the original urban development plan of Willem Marinus Dudok. Based upon feasibility studies conducted by the housing corporation, these last two structures were, however, also approved for demolition in the end. Suitable renovation with the combining of apartments as well as the corresponding acoustics and energy efficiency would have exceeded the maximum budget. The ground plan and the building structure were also not appropriate for the planned changes.