Vindmøllebakken is a collaboration between Helen&Hard architects and Kruse Smith real estate: The whole development comprises of 40 co-living units, 4 townhouses and 10 apartments.
The project is planned using a low-rise typology with 3-5 stories and is built of prefabricated timber elements. This refers to the traditional timber housing typology of the neighborhood.
Vindmøllebakken has become a modern housing typology that fulfills human, social and environmental needs in a sustainable way.
The residents – who own the apartments – have been involved in the planning and development process. This pilot project in Stavanger is based on the Gaining by Sharing model.
Gaining by sharing
Initiated by the architects Helen & Hard, Indigo Growth and Gaia Trondheim, the model is a response to the standard way homes are built, which often does not respond to the current societal needs. Today’s residents might be modern families with “my, your and our kids”, a generation of elderly who are healthy and want to live at home longer, people who live alone and suffers from loneliness or people who simply wish to live more sustainably.
By sharing resources, whether it is time, space or assets, the result is a more sustainable way of living: environmentally, but also socially, economically and architecturally.
Description of the co-housing project:
40 apartments, slightly smaller than usual - but fully equipped, are organized around 500 m2 of shared space, which everyone owns an equal part of. The shared spaces is the heart of the building – easy to reach by everyone. Some spaces are encouraging social activity, others offer space for retreat and privacy.
The entrance is through a courtyard into a generous double height hallway with plants and herbs growing - ready for making dinner in the adjacent communal kitchen. Here is also a dining area, workshops, guest rooms and a lounge. It is all constructed in spruce timber with hemp insulation creating a warm and calm atmosphere.
An amphitheater marks the start of an open stairwell and galleries leading to the apartments and further up to the library and greenhouse on the rooftop.
The sequence of rooms is designed to create visual connections between spaces and people and to provide a freedom to how much and when to engage in the communal life.
The resident can choose to take the path through the common areas or the fast track from the street and they can choose to live very close to the social areas or on the other side of the courtyard.
A groundbreaking feature of the process of a traditional housing project is the involvement of the residents in the planning and development phases of the project. Early in the process, workshops were organized that presented the concept and invited to influence the individual units and suggest activities for the common areas. Most importantly it was a chance to get to know each other and engage creatively in forming their future common home together.
As the first residents moved in they formed 22 interest groups that are self-organizing and gathering resources to manage the use of the shared spaces and facilities and to take care of the different tasks of the communal everyday life; there is a kitchen group, a gardening group, a car-sharing group, and even an art-curating- group.
There is also a group which facilitates good social and relational processes and help the community to learn from their challenges.
Being part of this community brings up very different experiences and benefits. Some enjoy that it is easy to meet and connect with neighbors and to care for each other. They experience being more engaged within their everyday lives.
Some account for better sleep and health conditions and others appreciate the aspect of sharing things and to have less private things to take care of.
Evidence of benefits from co-housing has mostly been anecdotal, but it is drawing new attention from social scientists. The national Co-housing Research Network in US found that 96 percent of people interviewed who lived in Co-housing reported an improved quality of life; 75 percent felt their physical health was better than others their age.
What was the brief?
To realize a project centered around the guiding principles of the Gaining by Sharing concept to create a sustainable housing community.
What were the key challenges?
It was initially challenging for us to introduce the Gaining by Sharing concept to the private housing market, and convince those involved that the new model of co-housing is in fact an alternative way of procuring and creating housing communities within the context of todays housing market.
The choice to build a five story complex with exposed wooden interior walls was also especially challenging due to the fire protection and sound requirements.
What materials did you choose and why?
Timber is the main building material. It is an environmentally sustainable choice, due to the overall reduction to the CO2 footprint of the building. The materiality of the exposed wood also creates beautiful spaces with a warm tactility, that contribute to creating a healthy internal environment.
Material Used :
1. Facade cladding: Vertical white painted wooden cladding for the outside facade. Horizontal wooden cladding for the inner facade, painted red.
2. Flooring: Common/Shared space: Concrete or linoleum flooring
3. Private dwellings: Wood
4. Doors: Standard Doors
5. Windows: Three different type of standard windows
6. Roofing: Green roof made of Cedum – Bergknapp
7. Wall elements: Pre fabricated with interior finnish - Product of Hoolzbau Saurer - Holzbau Saurer
8. Bathrooms: Pre fabricated - Teknobad
9. Acoustics: SINUS/Brekke & Strand Akustikk