NIJMEGEN – Dok Architecten’s design for social housing in Nijmegen, Netherlands – Castellatower – is part of the final phase of the Dobbelmanterrein urban plan.

According to design architect Ludo Grooteman, a limited budget for Castellatower led to architectural solutions based on ‘a rational structural principle’ and prefabricated, mass-produced modules.

Grooteman and the Dok Architecten team wanted ‘maximum effect on the personal scale’ while using ‘a large-scale fabrication process’. They achieved this by paying attention to human proportions and designing circulation areas in the building as sites for social interaction. ‘The main idea was to turn the corridors into shared living rooms’, says Grooteman. Wooden chairs and tables are embedded in carpeted nooks in the passages, while graphic ‘welcome mats’ are imprinted in the concrete outside apartment doors, adding cozy elements to the circulation space. The inhabitants personalise the corridors even more, adding furniture, pillows, candles and plants – Grooteman’s favourite aspect of the project.

Castellatower is a site-responsive building that reveals its functionality through different façade treatments. The modulated northern facade and corridors serve as an acoustic barrier between the apartments and highway and railway tracks below. The south façade opens and gives inhabitants access to the outdoors through cantilevered balconies that also encourage social interaction. All façades maintain and amplify the animated quality of the building’s passages, encouraging random encounters and community interaction.

Photos courtesy of Thijs Wolzak