A BUILDING FIT FOR TOMORROW’S WORLD

NOAHH | Network Oriented Architecture as Architects

NOAHH | Network Oriented Architecture has designed the multifunctional accommodation Onderdak, which means shelter in Dutch. Right now, this new zero-energy building shelters both a community centre and a small primary school – but its innovative design means it can be transformed into living spaces to provide accommodation for the town’s ageing population in future. The building has been completed in the spring of 2019.

The breath-taking building is located in the small rural hamlet of Biggekerke in the heart of the low-lying Dutch ‘polder’ landscape. Drawing on the morphology and agricultural traditions of the Zeeland province, NOAHH has used corrugated roofing inspired by local historical farm sheds. The roof is supported by steel plates with aluminium coating and is topped off with solar panels that help to make the building energy neutral. The central section of Onderdak includes an auditorium, a foyer with a grandstand staircase and a large walkway connecting all the spaces in the building. Large windows on both sides and skylights allow natural daylight to flood into the different spaces. The building acts as a market hall that plays host to the village’s cultural, social and educational activities and it has quickly become the beating heart of the community – a place where people can connect and spend quality time together.

Research has shown that rural areas like these are facing a population drain, and the primary school is expected to close in 15 years. That’s why NOAHH has designed Onderdak in a multifunctional way so that the school classrooms can be transformed into four care homes, offering accommodation for local pensioners. NOAHH believes that the viability of regions like Zeeland should be preserved for future generations, and believes that it is imperative to create flexible structures that can adapt to future developments to fit changing needs. “It was actually a process of a reverse transformation,” explains NOAHH architect Aafke de Bode. “We know that the number of children will decrease over time, so we have designed a building that can also be converted into four sheltered homes in the future. This means that we have designed a building fit for today's children and for tomorrow’s elderly.”

The local community has responded with enthusiasm to the eye-catching new landmark in their village. “NOAHH understood our wishes,” states Carla Koole, previous director of Onderdak primary school. “As a small village you want to commission something that blends in with the local environment." Petra Rijn, current director of Onderdak asserts “People come here to see the building from other villages in the neighbourhood. We have more registrations than last year. And the children love the building, especially because of the space and the abundance of light […] It is a building to play in”.

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