Superlofts Blok Y

Superlofts Blok Y, a cooperative housing project in Utrecht designed by Marc Koehler Architects, wins the Private Housing category of the 2018 Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA) award for Building of the Year.

Designed as an Open Building, Superloft Blok Y forms part of the ongoing Superlofts project, initiated by Marc Koehler Architects (MKA), focused on flexibility, participation and adaptability. It offered a collective of 30 homeowners a blank canvas to customise or design and build their apartments according to their needs, and actively engaged them from the outset to co-create the building and its shared spaces. A unique complex – where no two apartments are alike – results from the building’s radical flexibility, collective character and high level of sustainability.

The five-storey building comprises a base framework (support) that is independently fitted out (infill) by the inhabitants. Blok Y combines 30 Superlofts in 5 types – XS lofts (70m2) to family lofts (145m2) – resulting in a rich diversity of dwellings and mixed community. Homeowners could fit out a completely raw space (by themselves or together with an architect) or customise an existing floor plan, and also their exterior. The open concrete framework is organised into varying loft formats with two or three storeys, single or double facade, with a roof terrace, balcony or garden. Their unique layouts are uncommon in conventional housing, many designed to flexibly accommodate future change e.g. by incorporating a lift or flexible partitions to reconfigure the interior once the kids leave home. Generous voids create a beautiful sense of space and light.

Constructed with a considered use of materials and meticulous detailing, the facade is a simple but strong expression of the concept. The interplay of the fixed concrete grid and variation in details from the customised facades results in a robust, dynamic building that reflects the diversity of its community. The slim concrete grid is filled in with a framework of double-height windows that bring light deep into the apartments. A lively facade composition results from the varying loft exteriors, with their different entrances, balconies and window configurations. By night, modules of glowing interiors animate the framework, reflecting the changing activity within.

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The project was organised as a Cooperative Development Model where the residents actively helped shape the overall design including the building’s form, loft formats and collective amenities. This collaborative process resulted in an active, close-knit community where the residents were already neighbours even before construction began. They collectively designed the communal garden (with guidance from Marseille Buiten), located on the roof of the shared car park beside the private gardens and terraces. Behind the building, the canal was widened and enhanced with a shared jetty. A shared lobby integrates a communal display and bench.

A high level of sustainability is achieved through the integrated use of technologies such as floor heating and cooling using geothermal heat pumps with heat recovery, 180 solar panels for individual and shared energy needs, CO2 sensors for ventilation with heat recovery, passive solar design integrating double or triple glazing with electric sunshading and low maintenance facade materials. This results in an EPC of 0.3 and average GPR figure of 7.5.


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