Young Living in an “Intense City“

Young Living in an “Intense City“


On an ever so small area, the Dutch team of architects around Marlies Rohmer has created a flexible living space project standing out due to its unusual façade.

Groningen, the town at the Dutch North Sea coast, likes to call itself the “youngest town of the Netherlands”.

Living Space for a young Target Group

Being a student town, it suffers from living space getting more and more scarce. Within the scope of the urban planning related “The Intense City” concept, compact living space for young people spread across a small area is planned to be developed. Part of this concept is the Bloemsingel residential and business area. Here, on the premises of an old waterworks near downtown, the team of architecture firm Marlies Rohmer has created a residential, working and shopping building, capable of adapting to the constantly changing demands of young people, yet its appearance still being in tune with the historical city center.

A semi-open Snail Shell

The new building’s constructional structure at Bloemsingel reminds of a snail shell. It winds and thus creates a half-closed yard. This yard separates the building from the listed transformer station next door. The monument remained untouched by the new building and serves as a transition between the public outdoor area with its shopping possibilities and the semi-public inner courtyard. Here, inhabitants and employees can relax in appealingly designed surroundings. The common areas were designed as a place for encounter with galleries and seats.  

Usable in a flexible Manner

Especially the versatile usage possibilities turn the residential and business building at Bloemsingel into something valuable for the town. The combination of apartments, shopping possibilities and recreational options provide the people of Groningen with an attractive range of choices. On the first floor, housing the rooms for retailers, supporting columns were arranged in a distance of 8 meters to each other. This allows to combine or separate sales areas as required without the columns interfering with the spatial concept. Also the units of the upper floors are generously designed, the spatial dimensions allow flexible partitioning also here.

Sustainability inside and outside

The outstanding flexibility of the residential and business facility is a factor responsible for sustainability. It can always be adjusted to meet changing demands without using up much time and effort. This allows the building to be usable for a long time and prevents refurbishments or expansions from being necessary for quite some time, which would use up plenty of resources and energy.

Not only the structural flexibility turns the residential object at Bloemsingel into a long-term project. Sustainability played a role also in the design and manufacturing of the façade.     

The façade of the building is composed of square clinker brick elements, partitioned into smaller squares, forming a pattern. The clinker brick elements were pre-made, a crucial aspect for saving time. Apart from that, producing the elements beforehand was energy-efficient and resulted in less waste. The clinker brick façade is durable and hardly needs any maintenance.

The design of the façade was also put under the motto of “durability and sustainability”. The clinker brick appearance is based on the surrounding buildings of the old town and the transformer station next door.

By designing the façade, the architects displayed their understanding of the past and their sense of how to create timeless design. Due to its unusual pattern and modern character, the building has become an eye-catcher in Groningen.

Project details


Architecture firm Marlies Rohmer, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Completion 2010


Town of Groningen


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admin's picture
admin 28. April 2012 - 21:30

like like like

admin's picture
admin 3. May 2012 - 0:15

where is it?

Malena Derschatta 5. June 2012 - 14:36

It´s in Groningen / Netherlands

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benjohnsonccs's picture
benjohnsonccs 22. January 2016 - 5:25

It is true that the Dutch are very good architects. Their architectural skills are well proved by this building that is shown here. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring post on Dutch architecture. Keep up the good work where to buy cheese curds

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