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The concept in section. The different stages call for a differentiation in space. This alternates between positively elevated above Venlo and limited in orientation and unity below the ground plane.
The concept in section. The different stages call for a differentiation in space. This alternates between positively elevated above Venlo and limited in orientation and unity below the ground plane.

Personification; our guests have the opportunity to introduce themselves at a safe distance. Their stories differ tremendously, from trauma to job application, from privation to an open declaration of love.
Personification; our guests have the opportunity to introduce themselves at a safe distance. Their stories differ tremendously, from trauma to job application, from privation to an open declaration of love.

Aerial perspective showing the interior world. Recesses along the stair give the temporary residents room to sit and to observe. Vegetation on the roof reflects the seasons and makes one aware of time.
Aerial perspective showing the interior world. Recesses along the stair give the temporary residents room to sit and to observe. Vegetation on the roof reflects the seasons and makes one aware of time.

Programmatic link with the adjoining buildings. The pavement extends into the interior, with furniture both outside and inside. Spotlights pick out places of encounter.
Programmatic link with the adjoining buildings. The pavement extends into the interior, with furniture both outside and inside. Spotlights pick out places of encounter.

Perspective from the bottom of the pit. Light casts shadow silhouettes on the concrete face. Overmeasure helps to prepare residents for repatriation. There is nothing here of the human scale.
Perspective from the bottom of the pit. Light casts shadow silhouettes on the concrete face. Overmeasure helps to prepare residents for repatriation. There is nothing here of the human scale.

Vogelvluchtperspectief met zicht op de binnenwereld. De trapnissen geven de tijdelijke bewoner ruimte om te zitten en te observeren. Begroeiing op het dak vertolkt de seizoenen en maakt mensen bewust van tijd.
Vogelvluchtperspectief met zicht op de binnenwereld. De trapnissen geven de tijdelijke bewoner ruimte om te zitten en te observeren. Begroeiing op het dak vertolkt de seizoenen en maakt mensen bewust van tijd.

The range of possibilities, routes and states of mind captured in a spatial design.
The range of possibilities, routes and states of mind captured in a spatial design.

Maquette / Model
Maquette / Model




PROJECTINDEX
 
ASULON 51°22’03.47"N6°10’00.69"O
ArtEZ Academie van Bouwkunst
ARCHITECTURE

Project for a new accommodation centre for asylum seekers on Vleesplein, one of the gateways into the city of Venlo.
The site acts as a transitional zone between large and small, fast and slow, fleeting and secure. Intensively used pedestrian routes cut through the square (Vleesplein) providing a fertile bed for cross-pollination. This place is visible to asylum seekers as they approach by train. The centre meshes with the city both programmatically and architecturally. The building communicates the range of possibilities, routes and states of mind found among asylum seekers. Its spaces are alternately rich or poor, the boundaries hard or soft. Each duty is supported by a specific architectural response.
The lovingly crafted design covers all the needs of asylum seekers. The building marks the end of their flight. Refugees feel their way forward along the city walls to the gateway into Venlo, a gate giving access to the main object of their desire: safety. All the stops have been pulled out to enhance the feeling of safety. A dangerously deep moat protects the building from the threatening outside world; a large roof canopy communicates protection. The flight ends in a den where safety and security begin.
Once inside the building, the refugee encounters a safe and secure habitat. Introverted, it gives a view of Venlo’s warm side. There are opportunities for sports and games during what is often a long stay. The living quarters are optimistically lifted above the Venlo ground plane and offer the asylum seekers the chance to share a story with the inhabitants of Venlo, as a first sign of presence, as a life-determining opportunity. From their living quarters, asylum seekers can descend to the outdoor gathering space where the building abuts the public realm. Here, boundaries are softened. Meeting places have been modelled and pointed up both inside and outside the building’s envelope, in a programmatic meshing with the neighbouring built fabric that draws guest and host closer together.
Interviews between asylum seekers and the IND (the Dutch immigration and naturalization service) can have far-reaching consequences and call for a serious space. From it there is a view of Venlo, the city where a new chapter can unfold. If the asylum seeker is given a permit, social integration begins here; not in another village, but physically in neighbouring Venlo. If they are not given a permit for whatever reason, then repatriation begins here without delay. The prominently present concrete sluice leads asylum seekers down, way down below ground level. Here there is increasingly less orientation to the city. The repatriation room is not a prison, but helps rejected asylum seekers to bid farewell to Venlo. There is nothing here of the human scale. A timber sluice with sturdy ribs on the exterior guides the asylum seeker to the waiting taxi. Slender hinged rods, symbolizing an increasingly tenuous link, hitch this sluice to the building.
It may be that the asylum seeker is unwilling to accept the decision. This leaves one final option: a leap into the depths. This is clearly one way only with no turning back. The leap can end in the unlawful residency circuit or, more distressing still, death.
A strategy of constructing fragments and models largely guided the designer’s search for the centre’s spatial form. The spaces were therefore conceived, designed and tested individually and in combination. The design emanates a convincing optimism, without avoiding the downside of the asylum seekers’ plight.