Taking care of each other
The Heerenbeek housing complex is located on the outskirts of Zuidwijk in Rotterdam, next to the Zuiderpark. The complex consists of four residential buildings of 10 layers. Two of the residential buildings are from Vestia housing corporation, the other two are privately owned. These complexes were built in the 1990s as 55+ homes.
The complexes have a low turnover rate and the majority of the residents have far exceeded the age limit of 55+. The residents, residents’ committee and owner Vestia are confronted with issues around independent living at home for elderly people liek:quality of life, care, mobility and loneliness.
The residential buildings are surrounded by parking spaces and unused green areas with a poor appearance.
The residents’ committee Heerenbeek (BCH) has taken the initiative to improve the quality of life in the complex Heerenbeek 1 and 2. The question of the residents’ committee is clear: “How can the residents’ committee make living in Heerenbeek I & II even more pleasing, in consultation and cooperation with Vestia, using all the opportunities for social cohesion that exist and with special attention to the need for care and the outdoor space?”
With the Hortus Heerenbeek project, the residents’ committee and Vitibuck Architects want to jointly tackle the quality of life. They do this by making the outdoor space more accessible and friendly, and literally giving the care for each other space.
Accessible outdoor space: The current outdoor space of the complex is not used. In the new situation this outdoor space will be set up as a communal garden with a vegetable garden, outdoor room and meeting place. This creates a natural green environment that will be used mainly by older and less mobile residents. The garden will also be used for more joint activities and strengthen social cohesion.
Take care of each other: The creed of the residents’ committee is also: “From self-reliance to cohabitation!” The residents’ committee is already very active and offers various services on a voluntary basis, such as technical help at chores, shopping service, meal / cooking service, shared library, ICT / internet support. The idea of caring more for each other in the future is a realistic possibility that is taken into account in the project. The project investigates this possibility to offer a communal space for shared care and helping initiatives. There are wishes and ideas from the residents to integrate care needs, which will only increase in the future, under one roof as part of the Hortus Heerenbeek project. The informal care they want to offer each other will increase the collective self-reliance of the current residents and support the already existing strong commitment. External care can also be offered more centrally through a physical space. Layout/extension of the ground floor with a living room for residents is one of the possibilites.
As owner, housing corporation Vestia is directly involved in this project. Vestia has residential complexes throughout Rotterdam-Zuid where similar problems exist.