Year: 2023 | Location: Brainport Smart District, Helmond | Status: Underconstruction | Client: Private
Designers: Piotr Szczesniak, Tim Kouthoofd


In 2020, Bygg was tasked with leading a participatory workshop called Kavel Lab at Brainport Smart District. The workshop aimed to translate the wishes and vision of the Pioneers, a group of future residents who will live in the district, into a master plan that reflects the high ambitions of BSD. One of the participants in the workshop was a group of four families who were assigned a plot of land with the working name "Heuvelrug" (Back of the Hill). In 2022, the group commissioned Bygg to transform the master plan and their wishes into an architectural design, using a collective private commissioning approach known as "collectief particulier opdrachtgeverschap" (CPO) in Dutch.

The plot of land is located at the edge of the park and has a long, narrow shape, with its long side facing the park. To accommodate the program within the allowed building border, we decided to create a single, low, one-story volume that follows the horizontal lines of the park, creating a long, horizontal line in the landscape. The roof of the volume is intended to blend seamlessly with the park, with a horizontal line splitting the park and lifting up a meadow on the roof. The volume consists of four connected houses, with semi patios introduced to break up the volumes and bring the park more into the houses. The roof features light catchers, which act as lanterns and add to the aesthetic of the building.

In terms of architecture and circularity, the floor plans of the houses are divided into 3 by 3 rectangles, with the houses oriented around a central square space that features the light catcher. The main bedroom and technical spaces are positioned in the same way in each house, but the living spaces can be divided individually per house. The architectural expression of the houses is achieved through the use of sustainable, nature-inclusive solutions and the construction method employed. The houses will be prefabricated and brought to the site as smaller pieces, then connected on the side using wooden I-joints. The rhythm of construction is visible in the facades and division. The light catchers mentioned earlier also serve a functional purpose by naturally ventilating the houses. To protect the houses from the sun, a small gabion filled with crushed old bricks is introduced on the south, park-facing side. The mass of the debris helps absorb the heat and provides a place for plants to climb and small animals to thrive.
This feature, called the Biodiversity Booster, also helps blend the architecture with the park and avoid overheating. Most of the glass and windows are oriented around the patio to further aid with natural ventilation. On the northern side, the facade is made of wooden cladding. The meadow on the roof serves as a large storage area for rainwater, while the garden will be planted with native plants, flowers, and fruit and berries. At the edge between the park, there will be a small ditch that serves as an extra storage area for rainwater and a barrier for people. However, it will also be a place for more water plants and animals to thrive.

The design of the houses is an excellent example of nature-inclusive, modular biobased construction and passive house design solutions.