Description of the project:
Drawing upon Dutch architectural heritage, West 8's plan for Borneo Sporenburg was inspired by villages on the former Zuiderzee, where small, intimate houses descend towards the water. Borneo Sporenburg masterplan was a residential brief of 2500 dwellings, set those two peninsulas as one planning area, dictating a high density of housing. In numbers the project, according the C.A.B.E, is described as:
• Average density: 100 dwellings per hectare (the 600 dwellings in the three large housing blocks bring up the average density)
• Number of dwellings: 2,500 for Borneo Sporenburg / 17,000 for the Eastern Docklands
• Client: City of Amsterdam
• Designer: masterplan by West 8;
• The individual units were designed by international and local architects
• Year: 1996-2000
The whole masterplan was divided into a variety of house types, distinctive apartment blocks and the waterfront, adding character at the Borneo Sporenburg housing development and make the neighborhood easy to navigate. The masterplan was designed by West 8, however, six architectural practices were also asked to conduct a study into dwellings with ground-level entrances, investigating the possibilities for developing good neighborhood areas with a pleasant environment.
West 8 successfully created a framework for high density living that satisfies all the demands of an ordinary household. They were committed to creating unique structures within a unified whole. In order to insure this, West 8 set design codes, a range of criteria, upon which access, parking, private open space, storey height, plot width and building materials would be designed. Those codes also specified that dwellings should be designed by a diversity of architects. Thus, more than 100 architects were participating; developing new housing prototypes and the resulting designs include patios, roof gardens and striking views of the waterfront.
On the masterplan design the Borneo Sporenburg plan is divided into low-rise buildings in three zones and architecturally distinctive high-rise residential buildings within these zones, creating significant landmarks. The design of the apartment blocks and the low-rise dwellings was specific to the scheme. Even more, this variety of house types, the distinctive apartment blocks and the waterfront add character to the peninsulas and make the neighborhoods easy for visitors to be navigated.
The low-rise housing structures are arranged into strict branded blocks which are sub-divided into individual plots, each containing an inside void that comprises 30 to 50 percent of the plot. The idea was to drive daylight deep into the volumes of the houses, making smallish spaces appear larger and taking advantage of the water views, while maintaining privacy. Those dwellings have also a front door onto the street creating a street frontage and its own, exterior space. All private outside spaces as well as parking places are to be found within the plot. Car ports share the street frontage with the entrances, which are made by imaginatively designed porches, doors and gates.
The final solution presents that by organising the dwellings in a compact system of plots and small streets, higher densities could be achieved
Use of the area:
The Borneo Sporenburg development is purely a residential area having an urban character with lack of local shops and facilities which may lead to increased car dependency and subsequent parking problems. However, the Amsterdam’s centre is only a 15 minutes bike ride distance.
Problems, Issues and Thoughts:
The development of Borneo Sporenburg was a complicated and difficult process. There has been considerable experimentation in the legal construction of New Deal and in the architectural and urban planning sense according to CABE. Choosing the urban planning proposal from West 8 was a choice for the new, for the unknown.
Borneo Sporenburg project was about a dense urban space which would be inhabited by childless couples, singles and the extremes of high and low income, and a suburban edging occupied by middle-class families. The design also includes a school and housing for the elderly people, embodiment all the society’s sectors and demonstrating that family housing is not unable to coexist with dense urban areas.
Reflecting the nation's greater wealth, only 30 percent of the units are subsidized social housing and the rest are under market rates.
Further to the initial thoughts on the design, West 8 wanted to have around a dozen architects design the most of the housing. Those architects were about to design rows of 5 to 12 units in order to avoid long and monotonous facades. However, after the first 250 units which were built, developers petitioned the city to limit the choices to only the six most popular unit types. The result is that some street fronts are lined with long, horizontally oriented structures rather than the fine-grained rhythm of vertical facades that West 8 planned.
There is however less variety in the streetscape than West 8 hoped to achieve.
The masterplan set strict but imaginative rules for the development, including guidelines for streetscape, parking, private open space, and storey height and plot width. The masterplan was based on a new approach towards single-family houses - generous private outdoor space, a secure parking space, safety and individuality.
The apartment blocks in Borneo Sporenburg contain collective open spaces in the forms of courtyards or internal gardens.
Buildings and Public space:
The building layout clearly takes priority over the roads and car parking layout. A range of car parking treatments are used in Borneo Sporenburg: the low-rise terraced houses have internal car ports, the apartment blocks have underground car parks and there is some on-street car parking.
Streets are also well overlooked, due to the street frontage of the buildings, helping to make public spaces feel safe.
Unfortunately, there is only a little public green space in the development as a whole, with the water surrounding the docks serving as the main public space, open to Amsterdam's boating culture.
As a conclusion this experience of the Borneo Sporenburg project has had a significant impact on Dutch urban planning future.