COA Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Ter Apel officially opened

The new development for the COA Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Ter Apel opened on Wednesday 19 April. The outdated centre has made way for a new development that can accommodate 2,000 asylum seekers, the largest permanent reception centre in the Netherlands. BAM Bouw en Techniek and De Zwarte Hond won the Design, Build and Maintain commission by means of a European tender at the end of 2014. FELIXX reinforced the team as landscape architect and BAM Infra Wegen and BAM Infra Energie & Water completed the team. Thanks to the intelligent organisation of the area, meticulous design elaboration and efficient construction method, and despite the sober and functional preconditions, a sustainable asylum centre has been realised providing optimum accommodation. The high degree of prefab components guaranteed an extremely rapid completion time of less than two and a half years including design, engineering and construction.



Village for temporary residents

Ter Apel is situated in the north of the Netherlands. The reception centre is a short distance away from the surrounding villages and towns and is consequently set up as an independent village combining accommodation with facilities and services. The 258 ground-floor and upper-level units are clustered in eight neighbourhoods arranged around a central park strip where the main facilities are located. Living conditions, safety and manageability were key elements in the design. The clever configuration of residential areas and buildings creates extra space between the units. This provides more privacy for the inhabitants and reduces potential tension due to high occupation density at the centre. It creates space for a landscape framework that allows for a natural orientation in what is an unfamiliar area for the residents. Spatial elements and structures guide the asylum seekers via public spaces to communal areas, and from there to their specific accommodation.

The entrance to the reception centre is formed by a green boulevard that runs past the reception and leads to the central park strip. The primary school with its characteristic secure inner world is located behind the reception: a safe haven where the emphasis is on becoming acquainted with the Dutch education system and learning Dutch.


The central park strip forms the public heart of the community. This is where the service buildings, facility centres, and the sports and playing fields are located. The eight neighbourhoods are situated on both sides of this central park strip, each one distinguished by a square with a facilities pavilion. Each neighbourhood has its own individually-designed square with pavilion that also serves as a landmark, a hangout and meeting place. 

Click here for more images and information over the project.