Amsterdam-based architectural firm bureau SLA and Utrecht-based ZakenMaker have transformed a one-hectare potato field in the rural area of Oosterwold Almere, the Netherlands into nine connected homes for a group of pioneers seeking a sustainable communal lifestyle. Initially, Frode Bolhuis had approached the architects to construct his dream home, but the very limited budget prompted him to ask eight of his like-minded friends to join to make the project possible. The nine homes—each 1,722 square feet in size—are all located under one roof in the Oosterwold Co-living Complex, a long rectangular building with a shared porch, landscape and vegetable garden.

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interior of home wooden home with large windows and kids playing

interior of home with white walls and large windows illuminating the dining area as a child plays near the window in a wood car

The client’s tight budget largely drove the design decisions behind Oosterwold Co-living Complex. Not only did the project morph into a co-living complex as a result of limited funds, but the architects also decided that only the exterior would be designed and left the design of the interiors up to families. Elevated off the ground for a reduced footprint and to allow residents to choose the location of the sewage system and water pipes, the rectilinear building extends nearly 330 feet in length and appears to float above the landscape.

long wood building raised from the ground in a large open land with grass and snow

up close view of long wood building

“The façade is designed to give maximum freedom of choice within an efficient building system,” explain the architects. “Each family received a plan for seven windows and doors, which can be placed in the façade. The space between the frames is vitrified with solid parts of glass without a frame. This creates an uncluttered but diverse façade. Oosterwold Co-living Complex demonstrates that it’s possible to achieve a convincing design within a tight budget and which, most importantly, manages to meet the expectations of nine different clients.”

Related: How shared space makes four micro apartments in Japan seem much larger

long wood building raised from the ground in a large open land with grass and snow

long wood building raised from the ground in a large open land with grass and snow

For a cost-effective solution to insulation, the architects built the floor, roof and adjoining walls out of hollow wooden cassettes that were then filled with insulating cellulose. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a long, communal porch that overlooks the shared landscape and vegetable garden. The windows also bring ample amounts of natural light indoors while the roof overhang helps block unwanted solar gain. The Oosterwold Co-living Complex won the Frame Awards 2019 in the category Co-living Complex of the Year.

+ bureau SLA

+ ZakenMaker

Images by Filip Dujardin