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☰ Edwin Stolk

Residence Park
Belfeld a/d Maas
in progress 2018

Refelector was a research about housing in Venlo and an asignment by Circular Art Lab Limburg. The investigation resulted in this village imagination plan for Belfeld. At this moment I am searching for connections that could offer help when visualizing these ideas or parts of this concept. Are you interested? Please feel free to contact me.

After the jury selected my proposal I was asked to focus on Belfeld in the further elaboration of the plan. This village lies south of Venlo and is enclosed between on one side the A73 motorway and on the other the railway along the river Maas. Belfeld was an independent village until 2001 but then like many other small residential areas it became part of the municipality of Venlo.

When you look at the current housing stock it has little diversity. There is almost no connection with the river Maas because the old village center was lost during the Second World War. Noteworthy is the former vitrified clay factory which makes a dilapidated impression and has a negative influence on the quality of the built environment.

When you walk around on a weekday I noticed the closed shutters that gave a desolate atmosphere. Furthermore it is worth mentioning that some homeowners who could afford this made their own facilities such as a swimming pool in their backyard. On the other hand, I read in the village development plan, that the collective facilities in the village are under pressure. The shop owners have a hard time surviving and some have closed their doors after years of hard labor. I read on the website belfeld.nu that the municipality places a trash bin at benches in the outlying area, but only when they are adopted for emptying by a local resident.

In the light of housing it is also noteworthy that corporations in Limburg are using tiny houses to provide temporary in the extra demand for housing. Close to Belfeld lies Droompark Maasduinen which is a holiday park and they offer these small houses as an investment property and rent them out for investors as a unique recreational opportunity for tired workers. Detail here in the general use of these small houses is that they do not meet the standards of the governmental building code.

The bed, bath and bread arrangement for asylum-seekers whose applications have been rejected has also been abolished in Venlo from 1 January 2018; people can be send to the specially designated detention centres of the Governmental Repatriation and Departure Service.

Venlo is a transport city but lorry drivers are no longer allowed to park at the border for free and are now dependent on a paid parking with a camp-like atmosphere behind high fences.

Furthermore, I was inspired by interesting remarks from the Village Development Plan 2020 and the Municipal Housing Vision 2016-2021. In this vision I read that the municipality of Venlo will shrink from 2028 and, in particular at the edges of the municipality where Belfeld is located, the residential function will change. There will be a growing need for single-person households.

Residence Park
Belfeld a/d Maas

This village imagination plan is a mechanism to permanently improve the living quality and to strengthen and safeguard the identity of Belfeld. This can be achieved by integrating the concept of this residential park into and between the existing housing types. By placing barriers at the entrances of the village, where visitors are welcomed at the reception, you no longer live in a village but you are on holiday in a resort.

This residential park consists of an alternative housing system - owned by the community - with reflector dwellings placed in holders that are offered to people who are born in Belfeld. For the first time in the Netherlands and for every inhabitant of Belfeld, the local village provides lifelong housing as a right, a personal living space that will bear his or her name.

This right of residence will strengthen the bond with the village of birth even when people decide to leave Belfeld at a later age. When the reflector home is not occupied by the namesake, it is (recreational) rented out by the village council. The incomes serve the public facilities in the village. When we start to live smaller this also means that there must be better public facilities available for all and accessible throughout the year.

The reflector home measures 2,5 meters wide, 6 meters long and 2.6 meters high and is made of local wood. The production forest for this wood is located around the village. In addition to masking the negative effects of the nearby motorway the forest also strengthens the green character of the village. The reflector home is easy to transport and slides like a drawer in the facilities present in the living quarters. The houses are produced in the village. Upon the death of the namesake the house is overhauled in the local factory for the next name giver.

So the houses are placed in wooden living holders that could also be placed in empty reconstruction architecture. This system accommodates vacancies with recreation and avoids costly demolition. In addition, the materials and spaces remain the property of the community. The nearby dam provides the power supply for these housholds. These living units can be connected easily to each other from the heart of the body, a family with two children then lives in four connected reflector homes. The house is able to answer the living needs of every namesake in different stages of their life.

The old village center nearby the Maas can be rebuilt this way with holders and house residents. The reflector home is easy to move at high tide which makes it even possible to live in the floodplains. You can imagene that stair lifts become superfluous with this flexable system and the reflector home can easily be moved to the holders of the care station in case of illness or placed near parents who are in need of care.

Last but not least, in addition to the living standard of all human beings I want to introduce Sleep fragments. This is an automatic vending machine that offers fresh beds in the village centre and ensures that temporary passers-by can easily get a dignified and clean sleeping place regardless of their origin.

Help to realize this
Residence Park

The presentation of art should play an essential role in shaping and re-thinking our community. This is often not the case in today's society. That is why I am happy with this assignment and honored that I was offered the possibility by the Circular Art Lab Limburg to reconsider the housing demand in Belfeld.

As an external service provider I would like to point out in this initial phase that I am looking for an inclusive environment of exchange in the execution of this research, sharing of outcomes and possible realization of this concept. It is of great importance to me that all those people involved can actually become the shareholders that realize its visualization. In order to achieve this, I think for now about a presentation in the form of a housing store, explaining the concept to a broad audience. There must be an empty store in Belfeld available that can host this kind of exchange? Do you have any tips or suggestions after reading these ideas? Please do not hesitate to contact me: contact.

Residence Park Belfeld a/d Maas as a village imagination plan was presented to the team of the Circular Art Lab Limburg: Saskia van de Wiel (curator art en society, Museum van Bommel van Dam ), Suzanne Bastings (policy advisor housing, Gemeente Venlo), Martin Delhij (advisor neigborhood development,Wonen Limburg), Climmy Roeffen (adviser sustainable developments,Gemeente Venlo) and Arthur Rijntjes (real estate and project management,Bouwbedrijven Jongen). This idea was part of four other proposals and not the winner, therefore I am searching for other partners to collaborate with.

Residence Park Belfeld a/d Maas follows the concept behind #theorganisation and wants to make knowledge and resources available from the market in order to develop alternatives in the service of society as a whole. Its success rate depends to a great extent on the enthusiasm with which various 'shareholders' want to visualize the results.

Publicity about this project: Museum van Bommel van Dam

Developing this concept: Woonpark Belfeld a/d Maas was supported by: Stimuleringsfonds creatieve industrie, Gemeente Venlo, Bank Giro Loterij, Provincie Limbrurg.

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images | video | Circular Art Lab Limburg

Best regards, Edwin Stolk.

The images used on this page are compiled with material from the internet and meant to give an idea of a possible image formation when realizing this concept.