Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Tammy Everts
Dec 18, 2009

The old maxim "There's strength in numbers" applies to architecture, too. When a group of five Dutch families found that they couldn't create their dream homes individually, they joined forces and teamed up with a young, enthusiastic architecture firm to design and build a stunning landmark-quality apartment building in a serene setting minutes away from the city of Almere. Keep reading to learn more about this inspiring experiment in 21st-century communal living.

Designed and built over the course of five years, with the help of Next Architects, Villa van Vijven was very much a collaborative project, which the families approached with the rigorousness of seasoned business managers (which several of them are by trade).

While the structure was built by mandate, the individual apartments -- each of which varies hugely in size and layout -- were left as shells that each family could customize and refine according to their own tastes. The result is a cohesive external structure containing, design-wise, five very different internal units.

While the planning process was definitely a collective effort, the families maintain that their day-to-day lifestyles are more private than communal. There are shared areas -- such as the large garden and the covered "public square" beneath the building -- but each family goes about their daily business with all the privacy of an ordinary homeowner. The only thing that distinguishes them is the extraordinariness of their homes.

Read the full article here. Be sure to check out the extensive slideshow, as well.

Photos: Dean Kaufman

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