Transformation Garden of North, Rotterdam

Posted on 12-10-2022 by M.R.G. Hazelzet

Like the dome complex in Breda, the Garden of North in Rotterdam was also a former penitentiary. Garden of North was completed in 2020 and transformed into a lively residential environment while retaining all its characteristic elements. Consequently, the successful transformation of the former prison managed to secure second place in the Rotterdam Architecture Prize.

The former Noordsingel prison in Rotterdam is a unique complex in the history of the urban fabric and the Dutch prison system. Surprisingly spacious in size and openness, the launch of the site offers the unique opportunity to add a new district to the densely populated Oude Noorden.

Under the master plan by Atelier Quadrat and WDJ Architects, the closed prison complex has been transformed into the "Garden of the North": an enclosed urban garden, openly accessible and for the first time connected to the surrounding community through new gates and passageways. While retaining its qualities as a hidden feature of 'hortus conclusus'.

Modern comfortable living is achieved through a number of powerful but measured interventions that bring air and light inside. A large opening was created on the living floor, here solid steel structures and wide aluminium sliding doors were installed.

These interventions are always specific to the type of building and housing, but belong to one family. In the cellular wings, the façade forms a large continuous raised greenhouse that matches the scale of the building and refers to its original collective character. The flats of the cellular complex have detached window frames.

The Breda dome complex is a similar project, not only in terms of its history but also its vision. In Breda, too, the formerly closed complex is being transformed into an open, accessible area with diverse landscapes.