Thematic Design

Thematic Design is about:

Design for change

Design in relation to other designers;
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Open Building Experience 5.: “The Pelgromhof”, Zevenaar, The Netherlands, 2001

This project is located in the town center of Zevenaar (32000). It incorporates 169 support-infill apartments for elderly, a parking garage for 86 cars and a nucleus of 46 nursing rooms, designed for assisted and intramural care giving, a restaurant, a kitchen, a chapel, a theater, a shop and a library.

The Pelgromhof has been developed in the rental sector by the local housing association ‘Baston Wonen’, previously ASWZ, and the care foundation ‘Pelgrom’, today ‘Pleyade’. It was selected as ’National Model of Sustainable and Energy-efficient Construction’, nominated for the ‘Dutch Building Award’, became finalist of the ‘World Habitat Awards 2004’, and received the ‘Experimental Status’ of the Dutch government.

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The Open Building offers a bare structure in which homeowners can design and build their dream house. It provides the opportunity to match lifestyle and budget for a variety of user groups and attitudes from ‘do it yourself’ to turn-key luxury. This method facilitates customizable and affordable housing in an urban environment, creating a mixed community. This building model has proven to be highly adaptable to different sites, often pioneering at the urban fringe.

The radically flexible and resilient buildings can be adapted over time to shifting trends and changing behavior through a radical separation of support and fit-out systems. The robust bare framework facilitates various interior designs making the building future proof for different occupants over time.

Superlofts is based on a Cooperative Development Model allowing homeowners to meet each other way before the start of the construction process, forming a community and creating a strong bond. This model puts homeowners as co-creators, at the center of the decision-making process giving them real influence over the ‘design & build’ process resulting in uniquely crafted spaces, cost- and energy-efficient buildings.

We connect inhabitants, activating social well-being and providing a platform for exchanging ideas and inspiration. The flexibility of the open framework creates an opportunity to add common spaces or shared facilities at minimal cost, resulting in small vertical villages. Creating a sense of communal urban living while providing every homeowner with a unique chance to build a tailor-made space. Superlofts is currently active with eight projects in the Netherlands. And exploring several sites abroad.

Open Building Experience 4.: “Berkenkamp”, Enschede, the Netherlands, 1988.

Inspired by our Keyenburg project in Rotterdam (1985) and the analytic study “Support Patterns for Enschede” the local housing association “Licht en Lucht” in Enschede decided to build a support/infill project near the city center. They chose for Open Building in order to respond better to the market by fixing the program just before building. Moreover to allow a change of dwelling sizes in the future. And of course they preferred free dwelling lay-outs for their occupants!

The project contains 229 rental units for singles, couples and families divided over 70 apartments in a high rise building, plus 61 flats and duplexes on street level and 98 flats and duplexes upstairs around two courtyards.

The local foundation for housing mediation (SWE) organized the infill sessions, led by two experienced architect-consultants of our Lunetten and Keyenburg projects.


After our earlier projects some new Open Building aspects had to be dealt with:

  1. The attachment of meters and a heater to the central shafts,
  2. The prevention of raised floors in bathrooms.
  3. The application of modular coordination in a non rectangular building structure.


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