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When it comes to urban development, we seem to be mainly talking about cities. While the countryside is becoming more and more popular. In Krasse Kernen, research was carried out into how innovative residential environments, with an eye for area values, can contribute to the vitality and renaissance of the countryside. The Drenthe municipality of Westerveld is the research area for this.

The housing task for the municipality is estimated at around 800 homes until 2030: a 9% increase. Although the arrival of new homes and residents can enhance the facilities and quality of life in the villages, it is also the question how this densification relates to the spatial qualities of the municipality, the villages and the landscape.

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Developing spatial and social qualities
By means of 8 detailed spatial recipes, the study shows that a lot is still possible within the spatial restrictions and that valuable living environments can be realised. In addition to reinforcing the area’s qualities, the recipes also anticipates the support of the local level of facilities, demographic developments such as an ageing population and the specific housing needs of young people and seniors for example.

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Spatial Passports
Based on a spatial analysis, the characteristics of the 26 villages and the rural landscape have been made clear in so-called ‘passports’. The area is rich in spatial qualities, which form the basis for the residential environment valued by residents. Think of nature reserves, geologically valuable land forms, world heritage sites and protected village centres and monuments. These qualities are laid down in policy and to a greater or lesser extent form restrictions for the growth and development of the villages.

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Vision
The vision on developing residential environments consists of six key points. These focus on preserving and strengthening the landscape and heritage, anticipating on demographic developments, strengthening social cohesion, supporting the facilities, an adaptive housing stock and a vital rural area. The vision is spatially elaborated in 8 recipes for residential environments, determined on the basis of two driving forces. These are the degree of presence of spatial restrictions on the one hand and the level of facilities on the other. When the two are compared with each other, a spectrum of recipes for residential environments is created that can then be linked to the villages in the area.

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Recipes for living environments of the future
The elaborated recipes for residential environments vary from new urban expansion of the villages (L), inner-village densification (M), to the smaller scale of topping and transforming buildings (S) and splitting houses (XS). Each recipe shows how the urban development can be linked to the location (housing types, density, scale), landscape and spatial quality (landscape construction, greenery, water), sustainability and circularity (food, material, water, materials, energy) and the connection with the existing villages and communities (routes, facilities, social cohesion).

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Menu to choose from: perspective on the assignment
The recipes are calculated and assessed for feasibility. This provides insight into the theoretic potential in housing numbers per recipe and the estimated development space per village with regard to densification and expansion. Both large-scale and small-scale recipes can make a substantial contribution to the housing task. A long-term vision for housing can be developed on the basis of the menu of recipes.

The research by design was made possible by a subsidy from the Creative Industries Fund NL, within the context of the Spatial Design Voucher Scheme – Vital Villages and Cities.

Year: 2021
Type: regional vision, research by design, landscape and urban planning
Partner: Westerveld Municipality
Size: approx. 283 km2 study area
Status: research completed