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ARCHITECTURE Reimar von Meding – architect and consultant

Designing care on a human scale

In this article the author discusses several projects that reflect good design for those who do not have the resources or ability to choose their own living environment.

Design, energy reduction and the fight against human trafficking came together in one revolutionary project in the Netherlands – the Veilige Veste. The bright white building is the new home for girls from around the world who have been victims of human trafficking. The building is designed to provide security and protection so the girls can build up their lives again. The building was renovated according to

the ‘Passive House’ standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing its ecological footprint and creating ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling. In this project, the substructure of a

former police station was placed outside of the building. The substructure created a thermal bridge that works exactly like a tunnel, sucking in the cold outside air. By wrapping the building with diamond-cut square panels, the substructure is now within the building and the whole building is covered by a thick layer of insulation. At some points, the façade is now over three feet thicker than it was previously. Thanks to optimal insulation, draft proofing and the use of very little, highly energy-efficient equipment, the ‘Veilige Veste’ consumes very little power.

Attentive elderly housing A project to design a new care residency for people with Alzheimers or cognitive impairments resulted in the development of Care Housing Petterhusterstate, Steins. To minimise the influence on the environment, KAW designed the building to enhance the character of the landscape. The complex has a green roof, framed by a striking border. One side of the roof has been lengthend over the facade, creating a unification of the landscape and the building. The wide landscape is honored by the spacious design of the apartments, while its tranquil colour scheme mirrors that of an adjacent


The Veilige Veste is the first large building in the Netherlands to be renovated according to the Passive House standard for energy efficiency in a building, redu cing its ecological footprint.

farmhouse, built in the early 20th century. The care center consists of four buildings,

each containing six residential units. In the middle is a square which houses a servicepoint that is accessible for everyone in need of care. Enormous effort was put into creating a

residence here that connects both to its environment and to the people living in the village. A healthy living environment starts with the occupants feeling at home. This is the main thought behind the Healing Environment theory. Putting people and their mental, physical and social well-being first. This has been reflected in every aspect of this building – from the layout of the hallways right down to the colour of the toilet. The healing impact of nature and good views also cannot be underestimated. The principal question to be

overcome with this design was how the interior design could support the quality of life of its residents. The result was the creation of niches in the common living room to provide access to the private rooms of the residents. So the people can more easily remember how to get to their room, each niche has a different colour and its own memorabilia to make it more

personal. This allows the residents to retreat in their

own private space when they wish to. In this care residence all transport areas were also eliminated – such as hallways or entrances. This has resulted in a 25% increase in living space, further adding to the comfort of the residents. Energy efficiency in the building is

realised by its good set-up. An electric heat pump extracts heat from the groundwater at a depth of 80 m, generating water with a temperature of 35°C which is used for heating. The same geothermal system cools the rooms in summer. Heating of tap water is achieved by solar collectors. A mechanical ventilation system supplies fresh air and

Reimar von Meding

Reimar von Meding is chief architect at KAW. He studied architecture at the Technical University Delft. Under his leadership, KAW Rotterdam grew from 10 to 20 employees between 2004 and 2008. He is motivated by designing for the ‘forgotten target group’… those who do not have the resources or the ability to choose their own living environment. He believes that ‘good living’ is the basis for a better life. His specialty is the design of quality housing – at low cost.


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