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One Row of Houses – 17 Row Houses
Roosendaal, Netherlands 2005


The terraced house is the most commonly built housing form in the Netherlands. Here the role of the architects has become increasingly limited to ensuring as diversified of a façade design as possible, while the favored doorzonwoning layout retains its standard style of a living room extending the entire depth of the house with windows on both ends. Kempe Thill have again demonstrated sovereignty in their design of the terraced houses in Roosendaal. On the one hand, they radicalize the typology by pushing the functional zones to the fringe, giving the narrow living space a loft nature through a two-level void, end-to-end reflecting solar-control glass, and a partially open gallery. On the other hand, the architects embrace the uniform, representative street façade by paying a great deal of attention to the development of elegant details in order to lend “dignity” to social housing, while leaving the back side, comprising a utility shed and evincing a sphere of privacy similar to old garden-city models, to be freely and informally appropriated.


Angelika Fitz


The consummate low-cost, high-end row house

Atelier Kempe Thill





Foto: © Jessica van der Gaag, 2008

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The Essence of Terraced Houses Roosendaal, October 2008

“Just be your normal idiotic self ” is a common adage all over the Netherlands that applies to the traditional, southern little town of Roosendaal no less than to any other town. Yet in 2005, this town saw the completion of an experimental housing block of seventeen houses that were swiftly sold by popular demand. The responsible architects managed to optimize the standard floor plan and the modest budget. And the housing corporation succeeded in raising its profile with innovative architecture. The housing block is a purist manifesto—accommodating its residents in a simply pleasurable way.


In 1999, the Aramis housing corporation held a competition for up-and-coming architectural firms called “Living in 2000.” With this competition, Aramis wished to distinguish itself with an innovative project and gain experience with experimental architects. Atelier Kempe Thill won the competition and was granted two assignments in 2001. The firm designed a highrise service flat and a number of terraced houses in the Telefoonstraat in Kalsdonk, an underprivileged district in the north of Roosendaal. Due to its location, the latter project also had a third objective, namely to bring about more differentiation in the housing market and to improve the district’s image. In 2001, Atelier Kempe Thill had been around for no more than two years and, although it was already starting to establish a name for itself with its conceptual plans, the firm had hardly engaged in building at all. The founders of the firm, André Kempe and Oliver Thill, feel that contemporary architecture has drifted away from its essence and are intent on counterbalancing this with their designs.


Wouter Elema, project manager at Aramis at the time, applauds the firm’s enthusiasm and creativity: “Nothing is standard; they regard everything as a challenge and are open to discussion. The architects we usually work with design a front for a standard house and slightly modify their design when so requested. Atelier Kempe Thill was given the same freedom as other firms, but they were different in that they embraced this freedom with both hands. We succeeded in the experiment of realizing an innovative project and put Roosendaal on the map, but it all took a very long time. We have learned from this. This way of working makes it hard to respond to the needs of the market.”  ...

Martine Bakker


Translation from Dutch into English: Jeroen Boekhorst


for entire text see catalogue

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