Designing Dreams: Nine Dwellings in Oosterwold, Almere

Designed by architects Peter van Assche and Mathijs Cremers of bureau SLA and ZakenMaker respectively, the Oosterwold Co-living Complex began when artist Frode Bolhuis decided to act on a dream of wanting to live and work alternatively.

Situated in the rural area of Oosterwold, Almere, just outside Amsterdam, the project is centred around a 100-metre-long building and has successfully turned a one hectare potato field into a community of like-minded individuals. It comes complete with nine different homes, vegetable garden and idyllic forest surroundings.

While the idea itself was one proposed by Bolhuis, the limited budget meant that involving other people who shared his vision and approach to living was a must. It would ultimately be cheaper to build several residences at the same time and, before long, the artist was able to bring together eight friends and get the project in motion.

In terms of design, the exterior has been designed by van Assche and Cremers but the interior was left open to the tastes of the families who would be living there. The architects presented it to them as a shell in which residents could do with their allocated 160 square metres as they pleased, and so, if they wanted to introduce an artist’s studio or large living room, they were free to do so. The position of the space has left ample room for a community garden and the facade has been designed to give its inhabitants huge freedom of choice.

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In order to ensure the building had the highest insulation within budget the architects employed techniques to get the most out of common building materials, such as filling the separating walls with cellulose after installation. It has also, to allow for the introduction of waterpipes, a sewage system and other necessities, been lifted, and designed as if floating off the ground. The final product isn’t just an architectural feat but proves that, even with a tight budget and the tastes of nine different clients to contend with, a community can be created. Since its completion, the project has been named winner of the Frame Awards 2019 in the Co-Living Complex of the Year category and was rewarded with an honourable mention from the Architecture Prize Almere.

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