Day activities center Duinstrook
Noordwijk, The Netherlands
On the magnificent Willem van den Bergh site, an area for the intellectually and physically disabled of the ‘s Heerenloo care institution, Onix has realised the new day activity buildings. The buildings were beautifully situated in the landscape, viewing the dunes. The following core values were determined in dialogue between client, user and architect:
· social interaction and integration
· small-scale-ness and intimacy
· beauty matching the landscape
· user-friendliness corresponding to a variety of users
With these key values in mind two yards were created, each enclosed by different day activity buildings. We have the ‘animal yard’ with a horse riding centre, a tearoom for people to have lunch and a drink, a hay barn and a boarding kennel. Further on lies the ‘green yard’ with the nursery garden, a glasshouse, a building for woodworking and the ‘Very Intensive Care’ working unit. In order to stimulate interaction between passers-by, visitors and clients, an on-going cycle and foot path has been created between the two yards. The different types of day activities and users were meticulously grouped around the yards. For instance, it is not suitable to situate the ‘Very Intensive Care’ working unit directly next to the yard due to the high sensibility of its clients. Therefore, allowing them to still remain part of the yard, this building was positioned – like a satellite – behind the horse meadow. The partitioning fence of the horse meadow is not experienced as such by the VIC-clients. In the same way the boarding kennel was placed like a satellite between the trees to prevent any noise nuisance.
In order to get a full grasp of the wishes and qualities of the users, we have interviewed clients as well as their attendants. The results of this research were put to a professor specialised in autism in order to understand the specific demands from a scientific point of view. A lot of clients suffer from some form of autism, which means they have a fragmented perception of their environment and therefore have great difficulty creating the ‘full picture’ in their minds. We have made these findings the starting point of our architectonical concept. The design of the buildings therefore intends to let the visitors as well experience only fragments of the buildings, making it impossible to see the whole picture at a glance. Thus unusual looking buildings were created surrounding intimate public areas.
By cleverly and programmatically allocating the functions / day activities, a division was created between heated and unheated buildings. This not only entailed in reducing costs, it also provided an environmentally sustainable solution, in terms of installation technology as well as use of materials (less isolation necessary).
The concept for the use of materials was also based on the clients, the users. Through the materials employed for the buildings we intend to express beauty and imperfection, just like the clients are equally beautiful in their ‘imperfection’. This Japanese philosophy adapted to architecture resulted in superbly shaped and distorted bricks in a variety of colour shades and wooden fence posts in their original state. The buildings are not only environmentally sustainable, low maintenance and vandalism proof, but also display an interesting interaction with the daylight and the landscape. We are filled with pride to see these buildings appreciated by all their different users.