How to implement a necessary, but impopular program in a run down neighbourhood? The double burden of these deprived area's is that not only they form a poor and vulnarable society, but they also attract and generate socially unwanted populations of outfits, like drug-addicts. In the Southbank of Rotterdam a large program is being implemented to uplift the neighbourhoods. Part of this program is the allocation of small user-centers for the heavily addicted drug-users. It provides them with the elementary hygiene and health care and, more importantly, it is a place to get some rest in their extremely stressfull daily life. These institutes are important for the neighbourhood, because they keep the addicts from using on the street and provuide them with a reason to behave. Those who don’t are banned from the user center. But this is an invisible advantage, meanwhile it is an institute nobody wants in his own street. To prevent the user-center to dominate the area and to give the neighborhood a visible advantage, we decided to combine it with a neighbourhood-foyer. A facility for the local theatergroup to practice, the community of home-owners to meet, to organise emancipatory meetings for foreign women, or whatever other initiatives the community comes with.
Two houses, part of a larger building block, have been radically reorganised. A new structure was put over and through the original structure. The transformation is as dramatic as that of a caterpillar into a butterfly, but was frozen in action, keeping both entities apparent. The structure is set to combine two non-matching functions effectively and therefore has been subdivided into five slices. On both sides a zone with straight staircases, a transit zone a zone with smaller functional spaces, such as pantries, toilets, staff offices and a zone with larger living areas. This structure provides for a strict separation between medicare and foyer, while maintaining a flexibility that allows future program changes.
Three groups will be using the building. Each group having his own desires and routing. the drug addicts get a place which is devoid of the usual hospital like atmosphere, where they can relax and have an adequate place for taking their drugs. The staff of the medicare is the second group. For them it is vital to have a safe environment with a clear view on everything that is going on in the medicare. For that reason the staff’s office is located centrally in the facility. Like in a panopticum most places are visible from this room. Through the glass walls the kitchen can be seen, even the hall for the toilets and bathroom is visible through a small window in the kitchen. A seperate staircase leads directly up to a glass box inside the needle and smoking room, and down to a room for the medical care and the parole officer to use. Finally the third group is that of the neighbourhood using the foyer. They get two large spaces, one in the top floor, the other one at street level. A super large window in both the street and back facade emphasises the open character towards the community. The neighbourhood can also make use of three mix-spaces. Spaces that are meant for both the medicare and the foyer. Two small spaces for meetings in the top floor, while the medical space on ground floor level has a door opening to the foyer to enable the doctor to also receive patients from the neighbourhood.
Ximena Davalos, Margi Geerlings, Frank Hanswijk