The Molenzoom is an office strip in Houten, the Netherlands. It is situated alongside a traffic artery that connects the town center to the surrounding road network. The Molenzoom will transform into an economically vital and comfortable area for working and living. Bureau B+B made a masterplan for the Molenzoom, as part of a research by design project by the Makeblijde Architecture Center. This research focused on the spatial dimensions of health
When speaking about ‘health’ it is easy to interpret this issue in a limited way and only consider the physical aspects of peoples health. In order to achieve a genuinely healthy environment, we must also focus on mental health, quality of life and the day to day interaction in a social context. We are convinced the key to healthy cities lays in multifunctionality. Mixing and combining functions results in vibrancy. Good public space design facilitates exchange, movement and encounters.
The Molenzoom is an isolated work-landscape, in the middle of Houtens residential landscape. The area is only used by people that work there, predominantly as traffic space. In addition to this the lay-out of the Molenzoom is spread out, giving the area an anonymous, monotonous atmosphere. The central location of the area creates opportunities. The Molenzoom can become a hub for living and working, for sport an leisure. It can connect the different centers, parks and the surrounding landscape and mitigate the barrier effect of the railroad tracks.
The Molenzoom will develop into a local connecting zone. The intersection of the Molenzoom and the Vlierweg will serve as the central hub of this zone. We enhance both the recreational and the linking function by hooking up to the local green structure. With several new connections, the Vlierweg leads to the old town center. This makes it easier to cross from the center in the north to the other center in the south. We shift our focus from cars to slow traffic and public transportation. A central parking lot outside Houtens city limits stimulates visitors to get more exercise.
Densification and differentiation
The second phase of the spatial strategy for the Molenzoom consists of functional differentiation and densifying the urban structure. The office park is restructured by moving companies, changing them and partly demolishing office buildings. An aesthetic demands program for the facades will give the whole area a coherent appearance. We will create open workspaces with room for small, local entrepreneurs. The plinths will be programmed with new functions. While densifying the offices on the south side, the area’s around the park and the town center will focus primarily on residential buildings. In the north-eastern part of the Molenzoom, a new promenade will run alongside a green water retention feature.
- Location: Molenzoom Houten, Nederland
- Research: 2016
- Client: Makeblijde Architecture Center