Unlike the current situation, in the 60s the Netherlands had to cope with an extreme housing shortage. In that same decade, the Dutch Government arranged the realization of 40,000 (!) dwellings: mostly row-houses and apartment blocks. Today, 50 years after commissioning, and as a result of local shrinkage, three apartment blocks will be taken out of use in Bleijerheide (Kerkrade, Limburg). This fact calls for a review of the archetype ‘gallery flat’. The lessons from five decades of apartment blocks in use are of interest to architects, planners and policy makers in general – but especially for the future planning on site.

Housing association HEEMwonen, the City of Kerkrade and Maurer United Architects are currently working on a transformation project, entitled SUPERLOCAL. The aim is to re-use the material of the to be torn-down buildings to develop 100 new dwellings on location. The central themes of the project are ‘flexible city’, ‘energy city’ and ‘recyclable city’. The current residents of the apartment blocks are being involved in the research phase.

Commissioned by HEEMwonen, Maurer United Architects produced a printed ‘Neighbors Book’. In the book, the residents share stories about living in the buildings: About the positive image of ‘Modern Housing’ in the beginning and the gradual shift towards ‘A Faded Glory’ during the last decades. The book gives insight into the functioning of the apartment blocks through personal stories, embedded in the context of social, technological, economic and cultural changes that have occurred over that period in the Netherlands.

On July 14, 2015 Alderman Leo Jongen handed the first copy of the book ‘JIDDERINNE VÓLT ZIECH DOA HEEM’ (‘everyone felt at home there’) to the (former) residents of the apartment blocks. With this book, Maurer United Architects provides a first input for the ambitious project SUPERLOCAL that is planned to be completed by 2020 – hopefully within the framework of the IBA Parkstad.

(ed.) Marc Maurer, Nicole Maurer, Martijn Segers, Michiel Wauben
Graphic design by Boy Bastiaens / Maurer United Architects
ISBN: 978-90-808850-0-4
160 pages