Designer    Focus 27 Feb 2018

Residents of the ‘Superloft’ urban village collaborate to create this modular kitchen studio

Tapping into the open building movement, Marc Koehler Architects offers residents of its ‘Superlofts’ the freedom to design and/or self-build their homes over time, piece by piece, from a blank canvas, and co-create the shared spaces as a community, only limited by their collective imaginations and capacity for diplomacy as a co-operative of buyers.

This has given rise to a novel type of shared living where people benefit from cohabitation in an ‘urban village’, addressing the issue of loneliness and isolation that results from anonymous city living. This appeals to a growing number of individuals with creative and entrepreneurial mind-sets, who seek unconventional lifestyles. Superlofts allow residents to extend their homes with an office or atelier, a spa or cafeteria, a music studio or a commercial kitchen, and other ideas restricted in conventional housing.

A prefabricated concrete base structure provides a framework of three-metre to six-metre cubed modules that can be combined in any order. Owners/residents then add their interior into these raw volumes, with complete freedom to customise/tailor and evolve it to suit their unique lifestyles and requirements. As owners can design and build the interiors to grow their homes gradually, the costs are more manageable.

Centrally placed service shafts (a ‘Supercore’) afford flexibility by allowing kitchens and bathrooms to be placed almost anywhere in the space. An integrated aluminium smart facade incorporates a C02 sensor for ventilation, sun shading, drainage, privacy screens and large balconies into one adaptable modular unit. Utilising passive design, full-height glass facades flood the lofts with daylight and admit winter sunlight to heat the interior. Suspended cross-laminated timber mezzanine floors offer flexibility and adaptability by allowing spaces to be easily added—without the addition or removal of supporting walls.

Located in a redeveloping industrial area in north-west Amsterdam, Plot 4 comprises 19 residences ranging from affordable mini lofts (65m2) to luxury penthouses (165m2). The resulting community is thriving and uniquely diverse in lifestyles and age. They share a panoramic roof terrace and garden and regularly socialise at each other’s homes. A cooking studio even doubles as a restaurant for their ‘urban village’.

The project won the Housing Award and Director’s Special Award at the 2017 World Architecture Festival.

Mark Koehler Architects |