Conversation with Casper Schuuring about preserving creators in the densifying city

How can we keep throwing parties in the densifying city? Architect Casper Schuuring and his office MONK architects have created a design for this for a plot in M4H in Rotterdam. In the proposal, the rooms form a differentiated substructure for public housing for the decision-makers. The proposal has been developed in collaboration with ECHO Urban Design, ERA Contour and Fullhouse Vastgoed.

MONK architects work with a wide range of tasks: from individual homes to transformations to multi-company buildings. The agency made its breakthrough with the design for Creative Valley in Papendorp, Utrecht, with its distinctive black and protruding volumes. In the podcast, Schuuring talks about the background of this remarkable project and how the multi-company building has developed over the past ten years.

A new Creative Valley branch was recently completed next to Utrecht Central Station, also designed by MONK architects. Here, the multi-business building is part of a larger ecosystem with shops and restaurants in the plinth, hotel and even housing. The hybrid building is parallel to track 1 and connects on one side to the station square with the domed roof by Ector Hoogstad Architects and on the other side to Smakkelaarsveld, where a residential building designed by Studioninedots is currently being built. The various programs in the building designed by MONK architects are connected where possible. For example, the users of the multi-business building can use the hotel’s swimming pool. The plinth on the long side of the building still requires some attention, Schuuring notes in the podcast, which is still too closed at the moment.

So the project that this podcast is about. For Merwe-Vierhavens (M4H) in Rotterdam, MONK architects have created a design for a building where there is space for manufacturers at the bottom, and space is created for social housing at the top. The design was made at the request of the decision makers who are now in the harbor area and want to stay there, and was developed in collaboration with ECHO Urban Design, ERA Contour and Fullhouse Vastgoed.

The municipality of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam Authority want to realize the port of the future in M4H. For large parts of the area, the aim is to mix living and working: both on top of each other and next to each other. For a plot in the northwestern part of the area adjacent to Schiedam, the MONK architect sees possibilities for stacking: places for maker at the bottom of the shell, public housing above and a three-dimensional network of streets, squares and stairs connecting it all. . A kind of greenhouse with a coffee bar/café forms the central meeting place.

The podcast covers all aspects involved in this mix, from limiting rent for the manufacturing parties to limiting noise nuisance. Schuuring also has a strong opinion about the footboards. Because the word ‘pedestal’ suggests a separation between below and above, he prefers not to use that word. Here, too, the goal is to create an attractive and transparent image at street level. But it is also about creating a varied and attractive urban network. A porosity in three dimensions. You can also say an inner city quality.

In recent decades, with the conversion of former port areas and industrial areas into residential and working areas, we have seen that manufacturers are eventually pushed away, out of the city. Partly because renting out office space offers more and less risk of inconvenience. What remains are primarily expensive apartments and expensive office space. In fact, a one-sided and anti-social city. While the city must be for everyone and must provide a place for all types of activities, including manufacturing parties.

The proposal for the residential and work building in M4H is an unsolicited proposal addressed to the municipality of Rotterdam, which owns the land in question. In Belgium, in Brussels, several of these types of residential and work buildings have now been realized. In the Netherlands, this is the first concrete proposal for the combination of space for manufacturing parties and housing above.

In the transformation of these kinds of areas, entrepreneurs who are already established there should have the opportunity to come up with initiatives, says Schuuring. These entrepreneurs know the area and have their network there. It will give more in the long run, he believes, and strengthen individuality in such an area.

When it comes to urban planning, Schuuring sees opportunities for the alternation between large and small plots. So both larger parties and small businesses get the chance to realize their dreams. For example, a baker who lives above his shop can be placed next to a residential property, which in turn is next to a business complex around entertainment and so on. Schuuring is convinced that the mix of living and making can result in particularly interesting neighborhoods. Neighborhoods where you want to live because of the dynamism.

Also read the article about the proposal for the residential and work building in M4H in Rotterdam.

And also read the ten principles for successful mix of work and life that could be distilled from the symposium on this topic.

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