Modern Communal Living in the Netherlands

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photos by:
November 16, 2009
Originally published in The Future
as
Creative Commons

Craving not just a home but a proper piece of architecture, a handful of design- and business-savvy Dutch families banded together, hired an architect, and set about forming the community that would net them the houses of their dreams.

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  Seen here from the south, Villa van Vijven’s orange facade is meant to mimic the tiled rooftops of Holland’s country buildings, while the building’s horizontal pull echoes the flat landscape. The second-floor living rooms look out on the 4,200-square-foot communal garden, one of only two shared spaces in the whole community. Bob Krone, Koos Sweringa, and Marianne Schram stroll the grounds.
    Seen here from the south, Villa van Vijven’s orange facade is meant to mimic the tiled rooftops of Holland’s country buildings, while the building’s horizontal pull echoes the flat landscape. The second-floor living rooms look out on the 4,200-square-foot communal garden, one of only two shared spaces in the whole community. Bob Krone, Koos Sweringa, and Marianne Schram stroll the grounds.
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  Marianne Schram reads in her bedroom while her husband, Koos Sweringa, looks in from the stairs below.
    Marianne Schram reads in her bedroom while her husband, Koos Sweringa, looks in from the stairs below.
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  Nineteen-year-old Yvette Sweringa arrives at the villa by bike.
    Nineteen-year-old Yvette Sweringa arrives at the villa by bike.
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  Paula van Dijk (left) poses with her sister, Vera.
    Paula van Dijk (left) poses with her sister, Vera.
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  Thijske Noordhoek relaxes in her study-cum-bedroom.
    Thijske Noordhoek relaxes in her study-cum-bedroom.
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  Five-year-old Thomas Dochter plays outside the houses.
    Five-year-old Thomas Dochter plays outside the houses.
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  Bob Krone and Paula van Dijk go for a walk while Lucas and Jillis Noordhoek lounge on the grass. Their parents, Jacquelien and Cees Noordhoek, chat farther to the right.
    Bob Krone and Paula van Dijk go for a walk while Lucas and Jillis Noordhoek lounge on the grass. Their parents, Jacquelien and Cees Noordhoek, chat farther to the right.
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  Johan Bouwmeester built a library out of oak.
    Johan Bouwmeester built a library out of oak.
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  The communal entrance beneath the building is known as the “public square”; sisters Tessa and Anne Bouwmeester and a friend set off on their bikes.
    The communal entrance beneath the building is known as the “public square”; sisters Tessa and Anne Bouwmeester and a friend set off on their bikes.
  • 
  Van Dijk's framed pictures stacked on the floor form an impromptu point of visual interest.
    Van Dijk's framed pictures stacked on the floor form an impromptu point of visual interest.
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  Koos Sweringa and Marianne Schram putter in the kitchen.
    Koos Sweringa and Marianne Schram putter in the kitchen.
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  Yvette studies in her bedroom. The use of different colors for the various walls was inspired by the orange exterior.
    Yvette studies in her bedroom. The use of different colors for the various walls was inspired by the orange exterior.
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  In addition to the public garden, each unit has its own private plot.
    In addition to the public garden, each unit has its own private plot.
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  Cees, Jacquelien, Jillis, Lucas, and Thijske Noordhoek gather on the lawn; Andy Dochter looks out of the window while his wife Miriam stands on the terrace with sons Thomas and Vincent.
    Cees, Jacquelien, Jillis, Lucas, and Thijske Noordhoek gather on the lawn; Andy Dochter looks out of the window while his wife Miriam stands on the terrace with sons Thomas and Vincent.
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  Despite the communal nature of their living arrangement, the residents of Villa Van Vijven, like Miriam Dochter, maintain that they still lead very independent, private lives.
    Despite the communal nature of their living arrangement, the residents of Villa Van Vijven, like Miriam Dochter, maintain that they still lead very independent, private lives.
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  The communal entry has a large house number, 28 in the case of the Bouwmeester/Blokius family, to distinguish it from its neighbors.
    The communal entry has a large house number, 28 in the case of the Bouwmeester/Blokius family, to distinguish it from its neighbors.
  • 
  Villa Van Vijven cuts a truly remarkable figure, a striking orange figure on the otherwise flat green landscape.
    Villa Van Vijven cuts a truly remarkable figure, a striking orange figure on the otherwise flat green landscape.
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  The Noordhoek family is the biggest at Villa Van Vijven and they make use of the ample green space outside.
    The Noordhoek family is the biggest at Villa Van Vijven and they make use of the ample green space outside.
  • 
  Thomas and Vincent Dochter lounge in the living room of the blue apartment.
    Thomas and Vincent Dochter lounge in the living room of the blue apartment.
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  Bob Krone and Paula Van Dijk pose in front of their built-in bookcase. They live in the red unit.
    Bob Krone and Paula Van Dijk pose in front of their built-in bookcase. They live in the red unit.
  • 
  The nearby lake makes for a pretty setting, especially when framed by Villa Van Vijven's orange facade.
    The nearby lake makes for a pretty setting, especially when framed by Villa Van Vijven's orange facade.
  • 
  Outdoor chores like gardening and landscaping fall to the residents. The entryway's orange glow is magnificent when lit by the sun.
    Outdoor chores like gardening and landscaping fall to the residents. The entryway's orange glow is magnificent when lit by the sun.
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