The Aan de Waterkant urban plan for the Jeruzalem district is part of a series of new planning developments along the Piushaven in Tilburg. Diederendirrix has been involved in the district’s restructuring and expansion for more than ten years. A master plan was initiated in 2010 to cover an area of around four hectares. This was followed in subsequent years by an urban plan, with architectural development of all houses (169 units) and apartment complexes (110 units).
The Jeruzalem district is surrounded by the Ringbaan Oost ring road, Meierijbaan road, Wilhelminakanaal, and the Piushaven. Iconic of the region are the newly renovated Airey houses, which were constructed in the 1950s with Marshall assistance. From an urban perspective, the district is characterized by a simple orthogonal pattern of streets fringed by greenery. The main structure, with the central Caspar Houbenstraat running through like a vein, intersected by Betuwestraat, Veluwestraat, and Twentestraat, is surrounded by a green structure and a walking route along the water’s edge. Both structures were poorly interconnected, and the design of the district’s public space was of lower quality. By repurposing the former industrial area as residential, we have been able to properly connect the bank area along the Piushaven and the Wilhelminakanaal with the district, and expand and rejuvenate the public space. We aim to utilize the full potential quality of the water’s edge by reconfiguring for the benefit of Jeruzalem.
The urban plan includes a series of new blocks along the canal and a number of newly completed sites along Twentestraat and Caspar Houbenstraat. The new urban structure allows for views out from the district towards the banks of the canal. This principle has introduced a new orientation for the public space, now towards the canal and the surrounding landscape.
The new houses on either side of Twentestraat dovetail with the scale of the existing (Airey) houses. The apartment complexes have increased the scale to mark different structures at both district and city level. The central axis of Casper Houbenstraat continues into a car-free square, with a height accent to the water’s edge. There is now a second height accent at the convergence of Meierijbaan and Wilhelminakanaal, marking the transition between the city and the surrounding area.
The green nature of the Jeruzalem district, the design of the harbour park on the opposite side of the Piushaven, and the closeness of the Moerenburg nature/landscape area were important points of departure for the design of the public space. The park along the bank now has a landscape-like character with a rugged, ecological look, characterized by an infill of reeds, willows, and a mixture of herbs. There are a number of spots in the park that form explicit linkage points. The square at the head of Casper Houbenstraat is a new recreational space for the district, with fantastic views of the canal and the landscape. The connection to Meierijbaan has been redeveloped to ease the link to Moerenburg.
Iconic quality of the buildings
The iconic quality of the new-build is to a large extent determined by the need to find a link to the existing district and to facilitate a transition to a highly varied and differentiated image towards the water. A characteristic feature is the refinement towards the banks in terms of the use of grit, material, and colour.
The architectural style ranges from traditional in the existing area of the district to modern in the new area, towards the banks. This is a gradual transition from Twentestraat. We have ‘reused’ the architectural characteristics of Jeruzalem in parts. As part of this new connection, the theme – based on roof shapes, façade openings, and grit size – graduates from more on the district side to less on the water side.
The construction masses are articulate and expressive. We have achieved this in a number of ways, including pronounced roof edges, explicit overhangs, variation between pitched and flat roofs, loggia, bay windows, and roof terraces. Brickwork is the main material used, with different tints and bonds used for accentuation. Consequently, the use of colour in the brick tends towards lighter and more uniform in those blocks that link to the existing district, with greater variation in colour towards the park along the banks.