First units of Ter Apel Asylum Seekers Centre completed

The first 60 residential units of the new section of the Ter Apel Asylum Seekers Centre will be ready for occupation any day now. De Zwarte Hond has produced a design that puts living comfort, safety and manageability first. The 60 units that have now been completed include four ground-floor units for disabled persons. Each standard unit accommodates eight people, with four people sharing the units for the disabled. During and after the redevelopment, the centre will house 2,000 people. In addition to the residential units, the first office building of the asylum seekers centre is also nearing completion. The school with indoor sports facility will be ready for use in January 2016.

The centre comprises eight neighbourhoods surrounding courtyards. Two of the neighbourhoods have now been completed. The foremost quality of these neighbourhoods lies in the social clustering of residents in different types of shelter, providing closeness and cohesion while at the same time offering a clear view of what is going on within each neighbourhood.

The centre at Ter Apel offers a number of different types of accommodation for asylum seekers, ranging from shelter during the initial application phase to accommodation for those who have exhausted their legal options. The completed units will be used as first-line accommodation during the asylum application procedure, but the design offers plenty of flexibility for future adaptation of the units to provide any type of shelter.

Unlike the many temporary shelter schemes, the new centre at Ter Apel offers long-term accommodation. The units feature low energy use and robust construction. The obvious means of access with outdoor walkways at upper levels, as found in so many temporary and semipermanent centres, has been dispensed with. Instead, stairs leading to upper floors are enclosed behind front doors, giving residents a feeling of living in a village house.

The average stay of asylum seekers at Ter Apel is only three to four weeks, so in spite of the clear layout of the centre, occupants could find themselves lost through a variety of causes. This has been mitigated by introducing recognition points at all levels of scale, including individual colours and patterns for the brickwork in each of the neighbourhoods.

During their stay at the centre, there is little else to do for the residents but wait. Of course this can be a source of stress, but it can also result in entertainment and interaction. Watching and being watched forms an essential part of the stay at the centre. The residents are free to go where they please, but some places have intentionally been made conducive to “hanging out and waiting”. The centre features a number of attractive locations for hanging out, which prevents the most attractive spot from being monopolised by any single large group. Porches for example, are used to create shelters from rain or the heat of the sun.

Additional space has been created in the plan by intensifying the dimensions of the neighbourhoods. The added space is used to improve living standards and to ‘relax’ the high density of building. This creates more privacy and eases any tension.

The energy performance coefficient (EPC) of the units is 0, which makes them energy-neutral. This is achieved by the use of high-quality thermal insulation, solar panels on every roof surface, and a high degree of prefabrication. The end result is that the design achieves an energy rating of A++++.

Click here for more information about the project.