Nov 2018 - Living is a verb

Hand in hand

Jeroen Simons expects projects like Geworteld Wonen to become an essential part of our times. His story: ‘Tonight, we will know whether our project Geworteld Wonen in Rijswijk is awarded the Architectenweb Award. We obviously hope that this unique project will hence be known as the Residential Building of the year 2018. As an example of urban development and architecture with true participation of the residents.’

A domain in the middle of the busy Randstad, where residents can jointly grow fruits and vegetables. That is Geworteld Wonen (‘Rooted Living’) in a nutshell: together, green, healthy, enterprising and sustainable. Forty-seven households that set a good example in urban agriculture, sustainability and ecology. We didn’t design a building – we created a residential world. Well, technically, we facilitated it and made something possible that was said to be infeasible.

As the initiator, we sought and found interested parties, got them enthusiastic, had them think along with us and co-define the project. They became more than just enthusiastic buyers: they were the ambassadors of their own project. Geworteld Wonen was borne during the economic crisis. However, this form of architecture has since found a permanent place within Inbo. We have developed many more projects in which the residents play an important part. And that goes much further than just the design of a building.

Now that the economy has fully picked up again, many people revert to the old financially-driven development habits. Buildings are designed without giving sufficient thought to the people who will inhabit them. Without fully considering the impact of premises on the living environment or how future-proof a project is. At Inbo, these questions remain on our minds. With every single project, we examine how we can constructively contribute to society. We have people design a model of their ideal house using Styrofoam blocks; we comply with the wishes of senior citizens to have their own lounge with a hospitality manager; we design an app to allow residents to share their stuff. And the list goes on. We keep wondering what social impact our work has, and how we can initiate something for the collective. An approach that befits our times, and especially a sustainable future.’ 

- Project geworteld Wonen, Rijswijk

Further information: Jeroen Simons, Arnold Homan