Paul de Ruiter

De Bongerd Garden Suburb

High quality of life in a high-density city

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The rise in urban density has created an ongoing challenge to provide highly liveable accommodation to the growing global population of urban dwellers. This challenge is further complicated by the tendency for new developments to reinforce socio-demographic divisions by creating homogeneous enclaves. It was with this in mind that Paul de Ruiter Architects approached the commission to design a new neighbourhood in the northern borough of Amsterdam. Our thinking produced De Bongerd Garden Suburb, a neighbourhood of mixed housing types with a total of 1,600 apartments. We designed 70% of these for the owner-occupied segment and 30% as social housing. The mix has been instrumental in ensuring the diversity of the neighbourhood, which boasts families of all sizes from across the socio-economic and life-stage spectrum.


Innovative approach to high-density living

We designed de Bongerd along the lines of a garden suburb, which may be defined as a planned residential community in a park-like setting. However, with space at a premium in Amsterdam, we adapted the idea to provide as many apartments as possible on each plot without compromising liveability. Thus, while the standard new housing development (known in the Netherlands as Vinex neighbourhoods) usually offers about 30 apartments per hectare, we were able to accommodate 62. And we did this while giving each apartment its own ground floor entrance, so that every household could feel connected to their street and to the neighbourhood. Private front doors also avoided the need for a homeowners’ association.

The playful combination of light and heavy materials — namely aluminium and wood — helps to paint a picture of a modern garden suburb.

The luxury of a garden in a congested city

One of our goals in designing the owner-occupied, four-apartment units was to give each home as large a garden as possible. We designed a variety of these units, each in the form of a quadrant, with one multi-storey apartment per quadrant, spread across three floors and boasting a private roof terrace and street-level garden. Their façades are designed to admit lots of daylight and offer generous views of the gardens. The blank sections of the facades feature wooden trellises, to encourage the cultivation of vines in the hope that these sections will eventually be covered in lush vegetation.

Project details


Location Appelbuurt, Amsterdam North
Amount of dwellings 1,600
Total floor area 80 m² to 140 m² per apartment
Project description Mix of owner-occupied and social housing in blocks of four multi-storey apartments with private ground floor entrances
Start of design 2002
Start of construction 2005
Completion 2007


Client Municipality of Amsterdam, Borough of Amsterdam Noord and De Bongerd development consortium
Project architect Paul de Ruiter
Project team Helga Traksel, Dieter Blok
Construction consultant BAM Woningbouw
Building services engineering Reuser Technisch Adviesbureau
Landscape architect Karres + Brands Landschapsarchitecten
Urban planning Rudy Uytenhaak + Partners Architecten
Contractor BAM Woningbouw
Others involved Sambeek & Van Veen, Heren 5 Architecten
Photography Pieter Kers

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