On the edge of endless fields, we find two small settlements close to each other: Ganzedijk and Hongerige Wolf. Once, the labourers that worked on these fields lived here. The contrast between the far-stretching fields of the landowners and the little front gardens of these workers’ houses couldn’t be more apparent: an endless landscape with an almost incidental group of houses at the edge of the fields. A contrast that is the result of the juxtaposition of labour; the workers, and capital; the landowners.

Nowadays a lot of these small houses are empty. While the prices of the houses are the lowest in the country they prove impossible to sell. Nine years ago the community and municipality faced a similar problem: a lot of the houses were unused and run down. The municipality proposed to demolish the entire village, which was met with outrage by the local residents. After a year of discussion and protest, a compromise was reached to demolish six houses and upgrade the remaining ones. Nine years later the problem of empty and unused houses still exists. And we wonder: rather than demolishing more houses and thereby reinforcing the area’s decline, can we use this as an opportunity for both villages?

We would like to propose a way of making Ganzedijk and Hongerige Wolf vibrant and vital settlements again, within the existing boundaries that are given today. We believe that the population decline of these villages is not just a dramatic phenomenon but also an opportunity to give new energy. The population decline makes it possible for the villages to grow within their own borders. In other words, to alter or transform existing buildings for reuse. Existing properties can be made available to the communities of both villages, which gives the residents themselves the responsibility for these properties. Materials and labour are not wasted, as we build-upon the existing structures.

The assignment asked for a 30 x 30 box with a 3D statement. Our 30 x 30 box doesn’t include a 3D statement, but is the statement in itself. On the exterior of the 30 x 30 box an urban plan unfolds and shows that new developments in empty houses and barns could include short-stay apartments for tourists, a sports accommodation, ateliers for artists, a new accommodation for the community centre, a gallery, a visitors centre and perhaps a small shop combined with a coffee corner. A footpath along the water connects a new graveyard and visitors centre in Hongerige Wolf with a market square in Ganzedijk, where vegetables from the vegetable garden and green house can be sold.

In the interior of the 30 x 30 box, one of these developments – the short-stay apartments – has been elaborated. The proposal introduces a radically different way of short term living that incorporates and builds further upon the existing structure of one of the typical fifties houses. The ground floor includes a communal living and dining room with a kitchen that can be used by locals and tourist. On the first, second and third floor two-person studios enjoy marvellous views over the landscape. An external staircase provides access to the studios and to a public viewing point, while at the same time connecting the old and the new.

Location: Ganzedijk and Hongerige Wolf, The Netherlands
Program: Market square, community centre, local shop, communal garden, graveyard, shortstay appartments and footpath
Competition: Prix de Rome Architectuur and Mondriaan Fonds
Completed in March 2018

Photo of 3D statement by Majda Vidakovic