‘The intense city,’ a residential-building manifestation with a number of locations which are condensing and systematically enriching the Groningen city centre, is a typical example of this spatial strategy in which ‘holes’ in the urban fabric are being filled in. The Bloemhof project is part of this manifestation. The building, containing fifty-six starter residences and 1450 m2 of commercial space, is located on the former water company property on the Bloemensingel.
Anchoring the building in the city is an important theme in Marlies Rohmer’s work. One way to realise this is by designing a generic structure which can be easily adapted to various functions over time. For this reason a flexible column structure has been designed for the ground floor on an 8.10-metre pattern. The residences above have the same generous proportions and can be otherwise laid out as desired. All the rooms have been given a generous ceiling height, allowing the building to be easily used for working, living, and recreational purposes.
Rohmer emphasises that flexibility is not the only thing that makes a building long-lasting. ‘In architecture, we look for a specific quality and a certain opulence, like you see in old buildings. But we do it in a contemporary way. It used to be that labour was cheap and materials were expensive, and now it’s the other way around.’ For these reasons the architect likes to work with prefabricated materials which are often developed specifically for a particular project. For Bloemhof, special brick façade elements were designed with a relief pattern, evoking the same feeling of lavishness as buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
text: Kirsten Hannema