De Kersentuin (The Cherry Orchard) began as a resident led initiative to develop a sustainable housing district in Utrecht, Netherlands. The council linked the residents with professionals to map out a plan (housing density, street layout, materials, etc.) consisting of a mixture of 94 residences (28 rental and 66 homes) – small apartments, large houses and commuter homes. As the resident group grew, members had to commit at least a half day of work a week to the housing project, creating a sense of a community and ownership to the project. The real sense of community has allowed for the successful use of several shared facilities such as a car-sharing system, a project house (a multi-functional space for community use), a parking garage (freeing up ground space), a laundry room, an amphitheater, and an internet forum. The community has also embraced several sustainable practices with a nearby recycling centre, collective heating supply, natural ventilation, use of natural and recycled materials, etc.
The timber framed homes are part of the IFD (Industrial, Flexible, Demountable) movement in the Netherlands. The initial residents could choose from a variety of layouts including three locations for the stairs, while the 6m spans, lightweight partition walls, finishes, and equipment systems allow for subsequent versatility during use. The versatility is suited to adapt the homes for the disabled and elderly practical for lifetime adaptations as well. The homes are extendable in the back with additional strip foundations in place and the rear façades being demountable. Connections are made removable and reusable for refitting and disassembly and are designed (recorded) with a demolition plan. In one case of a home owner choosing to extend their home in the rear, the demountable façade was not reused as intended despite the initial investment. The façade was left on during the construction in order to allow the residents to continue to live in the house and was removed (easily) and disposed of upon completion.
Images courtesy of Rob Geraedts