“Common Woods is designed on the basis of a unique framework that brings together three main elements: architecture, modularity and the natural environment.”
Lidia Egorova, project lead Space&Matter

What does it mean to live in the forest?

The Common Woods design process was centered around the question of what it can and should mean to live in the forest. To find a holistic answer to this question, we worked closely together with diverse specialists, each of us going into the project with an open mind and curious attitude. Through an interactive and co-creative process, we designed 20 social housing units, 3 apartments and 33 luxurious stand-alone houses. 

The inhabitants of Common Woods played a significant role in the design process. Throughout the year, each of them contributed their unique perspectives so that the neighbourhood will feel and be truly theirs. Our community manager ensures that their voices shape the eventual outcome. This experience allowed the residents to form strong connections and prepares them for a shared future. Like is the case with Schoonschip, the inhabitants of Common Woods assume full responsibility for the care of their homes, community, and broader surroundings.

“The city of the future won’t be designed by external consultants behind a screen in an office. The city of the future will be designed by the people who will live there.”
Marjolein Smeele, community manager Space&Matter

Harmony between the built and natural environment

Our main ambition was to design and orchestrate perfect harmony between architecture and the natural environment. Drawing inspiration from the forest, we wanted the architecture to both enable a high quality of life and match the natural environment; modularity allowed us to connect these two wishes in an affordable and sustainable manner.

All houses are built using pre-fabricated, sustainable timbers panels. Modular housing has a number of advantages, not the least of which is its affordability. It also gives the neighbourhood a playful and natural look and allows the possibility for easy and efficient adaptations in case of, for example, family expansion. 

Self-sufficient in every possible way

To become the most sustainable neighbourhood in Europe, all facets of Common Woods are designed to be self-sufficient. The neighbourhood will be powered entirely by homegrown energy that is gathered by solar panels. Any surpluses are collected and stored in batteries to be used at a later point in time. Geothermal energy is used to heat and cool houses. A smart grid offers insights into the community’s energy usage, and those who use the least amount of energy are rewarded with crypto coins.

Next to this, a constructed wetland is responsible for the purification of greywater; this water can be used for toilets and washing machines, amongst other things. Recirculation showers and other such technologies should decrease the demand for freshwater by up to 60%. Rainwater is collected, stored, and used for greenhouses and irrigation.

A nature-inclusive design approach

For many centuries, ‘little stakeholders’ like birds, squirrels, and insects have called Nimmerdor home. It seemed not just fair, but also necessary to include the needs of the original inhabitants of Nimmerdor in the design process. Together with an ecology expert from Delva Landscape Architects, we incorporated small homes for the little stakeholders on the sides of houses and in the broader community.

Facades composed of natural materials and colours, floor-to-ceiling windows, and built-in homes for local animals allow Common Woods to blend into its surroundings. This neighbourhood connects a modern, comfortable standard of living with the relaxed atmosphere of the forest.