crea—tura studio
Story of a dwelling design
Taking architectural perspectives
This text and drawings recognize, describe and analyse the process of a transition from public to private space, positioning oneself as an imagined inhabitant of the Haarlemmer Houttuinen project. The analysis focuses in detail on the actual architectural means, that are constituted and created by architectural elements itself, that combine into the different transition zones.
The central theme of the Haarlemmer Houttuinen housing is the street as a living space, as was stated by the author himself.1 It is therefore fundamental that the function and hierarchy of spaces that were created is understood to interpret the building design intentions, verifying it as it has been materialized.
Research question:
What are the architectural elements used to modulate the boundary/threshold between private and public spaces?
Hertzberger achieves the distinction between public and private space through defining legible boundaries within his work.
Noticeably, it is spaces between the privacy of the individual homes and public nature of the surrounding streets that gives us this clear distinction. We think that it is in the creation of such transitional spaces, that the distinction between public and private becomes evident and clear.
1 From: Herman Hertzberger 1959-86. Buildings and Projects. p. 245
Through diagrams and axonometric drawings, we wish to depict and analyse the following:
How the project contrasts/relates to its immediate surrounding context.
The distinction between public, private and transitional spaces
The architectural elements
Results (refer to drawings)
Figure 1. Axonometric drawing busy/quiet contrast gradient in the scale of the site depicting and highlighting the
Figure 2. Isometry of the building detail depicting the phasing of the transition through various spaces
Figure 3. Isometry depicting the different materiality belonging to the spaces identified
Figure 4. Exploded isometry depicting the identified and isolated architectural elements
As analysed through drawings, Hertzberger creates and presents us with a plethora of spaces and transitional zones. He separates the both extremes, public and private domain by a buffer zone, that constitutes semi- public and semi-private zones. On the largest scale, the entire realm of the project is transposed and has different qualities than the surroundings. This is most noticeable in the contrast between the busy nature of the immediate surrounding streets such as the busy, and calming and pleasant atmosphere of the living street in the project itself. Bollards effectively create a threshold, both physical and perceived.
Through the drawings it is further verified the different element separate different spaces from the living street. Each architectural element that extends the façade or space creates its own transitional space and defines its boundary. As every zone has its architectural formulation it is very legible, therefore it is also possible to visually isolate the recognizable elements itself. These isolated elements are shown exploded in fig. 4. for better understanding. Such a legibility effectively results in instantaneously recognizable symbols of each space.
As the hypothesis stated it was found out that the author uses different elements to state the different space.
However, as this analysis primarily focused on the architectural elements a social approach is to yet be explored to fully comprehend the projects intentions as we are now aware that is another mean the author purposefully uses. In aspiration to fully recognize and analyse the quality of spaces it might be of use to convey a further research in the interior of the house, as it suggests a variance in the spatial elements used. This research can be taken step further by applying the used method on another building project by the author or else. n
Mr. H

There was no gate or entry sign, but I knew this was the secret town I was looking for amidst the heavy fog. Tapping my feet while waiting for my guide, Mr. H. Since I arrived at the city limits, as if all the eyes stared at me. I wished I was invisible. But strangely enough I couldn't see anyone. Feeling as an uninvited guest who just rang a door bell, I wished my guide would materialize soon. "Welcome to my magical world", said Mr. H. when he finally reaches to me, offering his hand. Firm and confident shook as of a man strongly assured of his believes. He is to be my guide for the day. "How is the fog today? Thick and confusing as usual? I'm glad you found the way, not everyone finds it." I didn't want to admit it was a strug-gle, but I felt it was somehow polite to admit it. Yes! It's very confusing out there! And my head still hurts how deafening the fog was. As if all the known songs and noises were playing in my head at the same time, covering my ears wouldn't help. "Oh my friend, you shall not worry anymore, in this town, everything is clear and tran-quil. And come on, I have so much to show you!" But I was somewhat uneasy, not sure of progress any further into the city. As if the strange force was pulling me out, my legs were suddenly heavy. This came to me as a big surprise, as I was so happy I finally made it here. Mr. H turned and smiled. "Oh yes I almost forgot, you are new here. Take my hand, it will be easier to get into the sphere." But there was nothing such as a sphere or fence in my sight, but still, as if I had to push more and more. He walked further on, as if he felt nothing of this strange force. Suddenly this feeling passed, we sure-ly must have made it into the sphere. Pleasant warmth now engulfed me and I started to recognise human sil-houettes. "You will get used to it by time, but for the first time it's very strong, as that was my intention when I created the spell." Mr. H seemed to have all the power over this city...The midday sun was castings its rays onto the beauty of lush gardens and inhabitants in them. It seemed as if all of them were outside today, sharing a great gift of sun they all have been longing for, having nothing on mind, as if the city was not under a constant siege of the mysterious fog. But in the end, there was no sign of it here. Amongst the leafy greens, an old man just poured his friends around the ta-ble another lofty glass of wine. Sud-denly a man broke into laugh, but his voice echoed in the narrow street just for a short moment. Then the city was calmly silent again, but not in an unsettling manner as before entering the sphere. I felt as a part of this en-vironment. As we walked pass the gardens, I started to tremble again. Was it anoth-er sphere force field? Indeed it was, as Mr. H. enlightened me promptly. All while wearing a sheepish grin. "This is as far as we can go, only the inhabit-ants of the sphere itself can enter the next one, they are the only ones who know how and not get pulled out by the force. We can only look now." I saw kids jumping from one sphere to the other, as if it was their extended home sphere. But the force was now so strong I had to take few steps back. It was gradually getting dark and the people are now entering their own spheres, waving their fellows good-bye. I had so many questions in my head to be answered before I would leave too. So I am always in action with these spheres? They seem to pull you towards or push you back de-pending who you are. Mr. H. nods, as when ones works get understood and praised. But how you created these spheres when you can't even see them? "A magician never reveals his tricks", he answers. "A refined mod-eration of elements is what you need for any good spell." And this force field you created? Oh, that's not mine that is the power of the eyes and ears in the walls around you…We shook hands with Mr. H. again and I depart. Leaving the city is eas-ier than entering, I just bow to the force that has been dragging me ever since…