housing, commercial plinth


In the next few years, Schalkwijk-Midden, a commercial and corporate district in Haarlem, will be transformed into a green work and residential neighborhood. The area has been dubbed as “Schalkwoud, city among the trees”. Clearly framed by the Europaweg and Amerikaweg, this plan envisions urbanity in a forest landscape, rather than greenery in a city landscape. A central route, or green corridor, runs through the landscape and connects three communal squares.

The green public space is the guiding principle for the design of Silva: the building conforms to the natural surroundings. Parking facilities are located entirely underground, so that the street-side of the building can be entirely dedicated to housing, whilst on the other side, along the green corridor, the commercial spaces are strongly connected to the green landscape. The sunny public space, which is planned on the south side of the building, will be a lively square due to the 130 starter homes.

Silva is made up of a clear composition of three blocks. Bordering the new Schalkwoud and the Europaweg, Silva has a well-rounded design: the facades are open and inviting in all directions. Two brick volumes stand firmly on the ground, connected by a lower volume of larger jointless bricks that subtly contrast the other facades.

Along the Europaweg, which will be given a new street profile, this ensemble follows the clear building line, creating an urban road where people live and work. As the composition moves inwards towards the green corridor, the height of the volumes declines. At its lowest point, the surface of the flat green roof, meets the tops of the surrounding trees. Silva is intentionally disconnected from neighboring buildings. Therefore, secondary routes arise around the building, but also through the interior of Silva. In the heart of the building, this route runs along a green open hall of almost 18 meters high. Here, the bustle of restaurants and shops in the plinth brings residents and visitor together.

These routes ensure the accessibility of the area: the greenery of Schalkwoud is visible from any position on the Europaweg and Amerikaweg. This porosity anchors Silva in Schalkwoud, as well as Schalkwoud in the city of Haarlem.

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