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Design and process

de Nieuwe Meent is designed as a large co-housing organism which offers a mix of independent social housing units and shared apartments for self-organized living groups, all sharing communal facilities plus public spaces open to the city.

dNM is designed by Time to Access in collaboration with Roel van der Zeeuw Architects, together with the future inhabitants, in a participatory co-design process that creates a house tailor-made upon the needs and desires of the different members of the group. This type of process empowers the future inhabitants and enhances the creation of a strong community and innovative design solutions for shared spaces, and diverse housing types.

The context

The plot is located in Watergraafsmeer, Amsterdam Oost. It connects to a quiet residential area with an intimate scale and a distinctly green character, but also has a side to the Science Park station square. The free standing building is spatially well connected to both aspects of the environment and, with it’s semi-public character aims to be a new actor in the life of the neighborhood.

Plinth and outdoor spaces

Sketches of plinth apartments made by community members as a design exercise

The plinth is structured around a sunny courtyard that functions as dNM’s main outdoor area and is the perfect example of communal living. The green roof of the plinth is also a fundamental part of the communal life: it extends the courtyard and is accessible for residents. The backyard on the north-west side provides bike parking and a recycling station.

The plinth features 15 independent social housing units averaging ca. 45m2 GO with direct access from the courtyard or the street. They are differentiated into 2 types of units: single storey and duplex.

The non-housing functions are located on the east wing of the building, facing both the station square and the courtyard and spreading on two levels of 180m2 BVO in total. They are the public interface between the building and the neighborhood.

The semi-public courtyard extends indoors, and becomes a 2-storey communal lobby at the base of the tower. At ground level, it has a double-height living area, a large professional kitchen and a long table for collective dinners. On the back side, shared facilities such as a laundry room, storage and toilets are available. The mezzanine has a more quiet polyfunctional room with a shared library, usable for meeting and learning, music and games, yoga and meditation, etc. The whole building is designed to be completely accessible to disabled people.

Tower and living groups

Sketches of possible private/shared space division in a living group floor

The five stories of the tower offers 25 housing units in a co-living setup. The units have large windows and shared green balconies facing South, while the North facade will, due to the sound load, be a closed deaf facade that contains all circulation (stairs, elevators and corridors) and serving spaces (storage, toilets / bathrooms, technical spaces). Each floor will host one woongroep consisting of 5 private units. Thanks to a flexible and adaptive design, each woongroep is free to determine its way of living, the layout of its floor plan and the ratio between the private and shared spaces.
The tower’s roof is also accessible, half of it is dedicated to energy production and the remaining space hosts a communal terrace with an amazing view towards the city and a collective hot tub!


Today, any discourse around re-thinking the future must address climate change. To face this challenge, cities need to radically minimize the resources they use and the waste materials they generate. We understand that the environmental impact of dNM includes the entire lifecycle of the building – from its construction and use, to its repurposing. Therefore, dNM will strive to be circular, carbon and energy neutral, rainproof and adaptive.

dNM has a wood load bearing structure and is built up as much as possible with dry systems that makes for easier internal reconfigurations and the future dismantlement of the building. Great attention is given to the material selection to minimize the building footprint (MPG = 0,45). Energy will come from renewable sources integrated in the building, solar and geothermal energy combined with an efficient and well insulated building envelope makes the building completely energy neutral (EPC=0,0)

de Nieuwe Meent is nature inclusive. We will plant and maintain ourselves not only the courtyard but also green roofs and facades. Low-tech but innovative solutions are used for a smart water management system and to include flora and fauna biodiversity.

More importantly, saving resources is about using less of them. We will share our common facilities – from the washing machine to tools, the toy collection and clothes for children. Because many facilities are shared, costs will also be lower. Crucially, in the face of an even more unpredictable future and given the likelihood of dNM residents changing, we have embedded high flexibility and adaptability in the building design, allowing dNM to be resilient and long-lasting.