In the historic Delfshaven district of Rotterdam (The Netherlands), an exciting new housing project is recently completed named Achterhaven. The project, designed by Sputnik Architecture Urbanism Research from Rotterdam, is the result of a competition held in 2004 by Woonbron Housing Corporation.
Delfshaven was originally the Port City of Delft, and Woonbron requested a design that would fit into the historic context of the district. Rather than applying a standard architectural approach of replicating the historic décor of the surrounding area into the new development, Sputnik took an urban approach which blended old with new. According to Sputnik, the reproduction of old facades does not lead to strong integration between existing and new developments, and is not necessarily cost-efficient. Considering the time, energy and craftsmanship required to properly re-create historic facades, these historic replication projects rarely effectively re-create the beautiful canal house facades of the Dutch golden era.
Rather than focusing on Delft’s building facades, the urban structure of Delft stood as the model for the plan. The urban fabric of squares and alleys that is so characteristic of Delft and Delfshaven integrates Achterhaven seamlessly into the surrounding context.