© Eva Bloem

The Regulateur in Groningen is completed

With the completion of the Regulateur, the Grunobuurt neighbourhood in Groningen has gained 105 new apartments. De Zwarte Hond has designed a compact block of social housing around a courtyard garden. Typologically, the design continues Groningen’s tradition of ‘hofjes’, alms houses built around courtyards. Based on a close and longstanding collaboration between Nijestee, De Zwarte Hond and Trebbe, this building was designed with the aim of making people’s lives healthier and happier.

The Regulateur is part of the Grunobuurt, a post-war neighbourhood that was built at a time of great housing scarcity. In 2004, it was decided to renovate the district on a major scale because the homes were in poor repair and the quality of life was suffering as a result. Housing corporation Nijestee, architects De Zwarte Hond and developing contractors Trebbe joined forces in 2016 and overhauled the construction, design and development process. Throughout the entire process, every aspect was transparent to all the actors and, where necessary, they were able to make adjustments together.

A remarkable and rhythmic façade
The Regulateur is the sixth residential building in the renovated Grunobuurt area. The stepped apartment block ranges from three to seven storeys and has a beautifully rhythmic facade. The facade openings repeat around the block with accents at the corners supplied by the loggias, and both light and views increase the higher you go in the building. This is reflected in the facade pattern, which features windows that are wider at the bottom and become progressively narrower towards the top.

Also eye-catching is the unusual brickwork, which seems to consist solely of a repeated header bond. Together with the Strating brickworks, we created a special brick for this. It has a mock joint, creating the appearance of a block bond that emphasizes the ‘fade’ pattern of the facade. We also made the brick less deep, 70 mm instead of the standard 100 mm. By combining this shallower brick with the occasional ordinary brick, we create a beautiful relief effect. In its entirety this not only results in a richly textured facade, but also saves a significant amount of material.

Community around a green courtyard
Parking has been solved centrally in the neighbourhood with a parking garage, which meant that the courtyard could become a garden. By positioning the outdoor spaces of all the housing types on this inner side, people live around the garden and everyone is focused on it. Besides the greenery in the garden, vegetation will also grow up along the façades on the inner sides of the building. In this peaceful green oasis, it will be easy and enjoyable to chat with the neighbours.

The generous entrances give direct access to the courtyard garden as well as to the communal bicycle storage facility. On the extra-high ground floor, as well as living spaces there is room for two social and commercial spaces that will enhance the neighbourhood. The building has a sedum roof combined with solar panels.

Part of the urban regeneration
In addition to the Regulateur, De Zwarte Hond previously also designed the Typhoon and Tractie residential blocks in the Grunobuurt. We are also responsible for the new urban development plan in which we – in close consultation with residents – take the much-appreciated quality of ‘unity in diversity’ as a starting point.

The plan consists of an ensemble of eight closed brick building blocks that rise gradually and have height accents at various corners. The unity is achieved by unambiguous and recognizable building volumes and reinforced by rules for the design of the public space, the façade structure and the entrances of the building blocks. Variation is created, for example, in the profiles, detailing, types of brick and gutter heights.

The Regulateur in Groningen was designed by De Zwarte Hond and built by Nijestee and Trebbe. The courtyard design was done by Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners.