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.
Photos: Dean Kaufman