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Research by design is an integral part of our practice. Central to these studies is finding and developing applicable architectural models. We like to talk about how spaces in buildings work. This can be discussed objectively and the discussion is not clouded by opinions about aesthetics.

featured research projects: Good Affordable Housing, The Blue Box and Generative Algorithm

SPUTNIK Goed Wonen TU Delft01

Good Affordable Housing

Sputnik initiated the typological study Good Affordable Housing to recalibrate the program of requirements for compact social housing and to determine the basis for housing quality.

15 housing associations spread throughout the Netherlands and their tenants took part in the survey. The research was made possible by the Ministry of the Interior.

Following a survey among tenants and housing association employees, a list has been compiled of activities that should at least be allowed to take place in a home. For these activities, the necessary furniture was sought and the usable space determined. This has resulted in sample layouts of rooms that were tested in a one-on-one test set-up. Based on the results, housing types have been developed for the target groups of the participating housing associations. This has resulted in a broad spectrum of housing types, all of which meet the basic quality of Goed Wonen and which can serve as the starting point for the design assignment for the compact rental housing of the future.

download the pdf (Dutch)

The Blue Box

In our practice, pleasure in the discovery of new architectonical models and an imperturbable search for the next unique prototype go hand in hand. Paul de Vroom started this continuous process during his graduation, at that time resulting in the legendary “Blue Box” in which 22 urban prototypes are documented and abstracted for use in the so called ‘projection method’. This method makes use of the projection of a specific model on a site, transforming and mechanically multiplying or dividing it, thus resulting in useful and unexpected perspectives on the potential of the location. Moreover, the method initiates a creative process in which both logical and unique solutions are found.

DKV blauwekoffer Paul
DKV blauwekoffer front
DKV blauwekoffer Pages1


Generative Algorithm

The Good Affordable Housing research has provided us with a library of compact housing types that we can easily use as building blocks in feasibility studies.

Because we are (too) often presented with an urban volume that gives a rosy picture of the volume and GFAs, but is in practice not so easy to fill with compact homes, we have developed a parametric tool with which we can, as it were, fill up urban planning volumes with all kinds of combinations of housing sizes and types. This is extremely suitable for feasibility analyses, because you can not only extract all kinds of data directly from the model, but because you also are guaranteed that good housing plans can be realized in it.

A planners field day: "Into the woods y'all!"

In the summer of 2022, the new inter-ministerial Ministry of Make called on a hundred designers and experts to use their collective knowledge and imagination to come up with new designs for the demand for 1,000,000 homes in the period up to 2030. With our design research "Into the woods y'all" we want to contribute to the radical renovation of the Netherlands and offer concrete solutions for the housing shortage and the consequences of climate change.

A national plan map built up from local design power

The ministry has issued a concrete assignment for 100 designers with the request to conduct design research into the development of 10,000 climate-proof homes within their 2 x 2 km area, and to make a design for this. The designers and specialists received a Test Kit containing everything they needed. The hundred designed test kits were collected and together they formed the largest scale model in the Netherlands at 1:2000 scale.

We chose the location near Wapse in Drenthe, right next to the Natura 2000 area Het Drents-Friese Wold. It is an area that now consists of 90% pasture, and which has been designated as a transition area on the maligned nitrogen map of the Ministry of Agriculture. This means that intensive livestock farming will have to disappear from the area in order to limit the precipitation of nitrogen in the vulnerable nature reserve.

Throughout the Netherlands, more than 800,000 ha has been designated as a transition area where intensive livestock farming is making way for something new. We therefore see the location at Wapse as a prototype for a possible new land use. If we use 800,000 hectares to realize 1 million homes, then this is possible with an extremely low density of 1.25 homes per hectare. The rest of the vacated areas can be transformed into forest. In this way, the annual CO2 emissions in the (housing) construction industry can be compensated and stored. The new houses are of course made of wood.

Watch the video below or take a look at the project page:

Wapse - Ministry of Make
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Model topview copy