Tony Fretton Architects has completed a new development of houses in the Dutch town of Den Helder. Commissioned by Dutch developer Proper-Stok the development comprises 2 and 3 storey houses designed by Tony Fretton Architects and Dutch practice Geurst en Schulze Architecten configured within a masterplan designed by West 8.
Molenplein occupies a long site between two canals, the Helderskanaal and Werfkanaal, where it looks out onto Den Helder’s former Napoleonic naval yard. The development is part of a regeneration strategy by the municipality to attract middle-income people to the area following the relocation of the Dutch navy base. The Napoleonic dockyard has also been redeveloped, providing places for business and culture.
West 8’s masterplan for Molenplein preserves the character, scale and diversity of the city fabric along each canal; the plan comprises large three-storey houses facing the dockyard and compact two-storey houses to the rear, with private gardens in between, and intersperses designs by Tony Fretton Architects with those of Geurst en Schulze Architecten. Houses designed by Tony Fretton Architects are distinguished by a simple profile and generously proportioned windows and entrance doors.
The designs are abstracted versions of typical canal front and back houses and aim to reproduce the generosity of scale and abstraction seen in Dutch architecture from the Golden Age and early Dutch modernism. Materials comprise wooden window frames in facades of white painted brick or rose coloured brick with white pointing. A measure of ornament is given through the use of discreet panels of Belgian marble at eye level. In contrast the Geurst en Schulze houses have finely elaborated detail and provide punctuation in the terrace.
Inspired by the openness and energy that the practice observed in an earlier development they designed – De Prinsendam in Overhoeks, Amsterdam – where owners radically personalised their interiors, the houses are presented with unplanned interiors and carefully positioned service risers, fenestration and staircases that support a wide range of possible internal configurations. Tony Fretton Architects was founded in 1982 and is headed by Tony Fretton and James McKinney. The work of the practice ranges from embassies, government and commercial offices, high quality residential to buildings for arts and culture. The practice has a proven ability in realising buildings which give long-lasting pleasure in use and social and economic benefits within themselves and to their locale.
Now an extensive practice, Tony Fretton Architects is building across Europe with projects in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium. An active writer and lecturer, Tony Fretton is Professor, Chair of Architectural Design & Interiors at Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands and was a visiting professor at ETH Zurich 2010-12. Den Helder is the practice’s fourth built housing development in the Netherlands. Earlier built works are in Amsterdam and include De Prinsendam in Overhoeks, Andreas Ensemble in Amsterdam West (also commissioned by Proper-Stok) and Solid II, a mixed use building near Vondelpark.Location: Den Helder, The Netherlands Architects: Tony Fretton Architects Client: Proper-Stok Gross external area: 2,300 sq m approx
Internal area: 3,200 sq m approx
Design team: Tony Fretton, James McKinney, David Owen, Chris Snow, Chris Neve
Project associate: David Owen
Project architect: Chris Snow
Executive architects: Geurst en Schulze Architecten
Masterplan & landscaping: West 8
Structural engineers: Ingenieursbureau Dijkhuis bv
Services engineers: Wolf Dikken adviseurs
Main contractor: Tuin Den Helder bv
Photographs: Christian Richters