Assignment: Ververst – a design based research into new urban concepts
Client: Ministry of Spatial Planning (VROM) and Control Group Experimental Housing (SEV)
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg, L. Veeger, W. Hoogerwerf with H. Heckwolf, D. Nieuwstad
Year: 1999


exponential urbanism


In this project we investigated the programming of nodes in infrastructural networks.
By heavy programming on nodes we are able to avoid part of the smothering carpet of low density (housing) programs, which is spreading over Holland. Our aim here is to fertilize urban material with diversity, integrated services, higher efficiency and lower costs. We are convinced that nodes, embedded in existing infrastructural networks, are ideal locations to realize massive programs. These kinds of sites are difficult to develop, but they force us to learn techniques of concentration and intensification, the tools for urban planning in the nearby future. We consider the results of this study a manifesto for exponential urbanism. In consequence of INFRABODIES, our research in the programming of empty zones surrounding heavy infrastructure (1997) and in particular in consequence of the concept for Schieplein – Urban Turbine, you can find here a summary of our research into the programming of two infra-nodes.


Our clients gave us a free choice to select our site, with the time window of 2030. Overschie became our test field. Overschie is a small village, encapsulated in the periphery of Rotterdam. It was seriously damaged by the passage of the A13 freeway, which became a kind of ‘Berlin Wall’. For us the keys were two infrastructural nodes on its north and south boundary, providing us with the fuel for an exponential urbanism. The inhabitants of Overschie are breathing polluted air. The heavy traffic flow makes them passively smoke an equivalent of up to 17 cigarettes a day. This is one of the black pages in the history of urban planning in Holland. The engine of the transformation of Overschie can be triggered by two elements: the new A13-A16-link and the construction of the A4, both infrastructural bypasses are designed to relieve the A13 from congestion. This highway however will still remain the perfectly situated northern urban boulevard of Rotterdam.


In our scheme we buried the A13 underground. Overschie can develop a Central Park on top of the A13. Overschie becomes a village once again.

A13-A16 NODE

The A13-A16-node can be developed as infrascape: a business park integrated in a lifted landscape. This node will be covered by the new A13-central Park of Overschie, a parallel plane of soil. This new urban landscape develops opportunities for a complete new office area for the Randstad. The structural grid is derived from the grid of the present waterways. Overschie Central Park connects the existing Park Zestienhoven to the polder area Midden Delfland over this infrastructural bundle.


The Compressor Kleinpolderplein will be developed with urban programs and housing. Because of its position between the Randstadring, Rotterdam Airport, Rotterdam Northwest office park and the city itself, this node generates an enormous potential. The underground A13 is combined with a metro tube that links the Central Station, Rotterdam Airport, RandstadRail (present Hofplein trajectory) and the future HSL (high speed train).


This is the biggest Infrabody with the smallest footprint we have ever planned. The programming of such a location with such a massive scale is without precedents. Its density is beyond our present day comprehension. Its time window is around 2030.
The Compressor consists of stacked slabs of city and reaches a height of about 300-meters, the present European ceiling. It brings programs together in a dot under high pressure and it makes urbanism inevitable. To bring the Compressor to life, we perforated it with various kinds of atriums for the admittance of light and air and linked it to various types of infrastructure. Its sheer mass exploits the existing traffic square. The high density inside forces all infrastructure vertically. The five floors of the interface take care of all incoming and outgoing traffic by prosthetics reaching out into the surroundings for public transport, trucks, cars, metro, bus, pedestrians and cyclists. It takes care of connecting the massive conventional, horizontal traffic flows to the new, vertical, internal systems. The floor fields of the Compressor obtain a variety of qualities such as daylight, fresh air and panoramic views. These qualities create zones for specific programs like housing, working spaces, offices, commercial programs, recreation and parking. Obviously housing is nesting along the outer perimeters of the slabs.
The root shaped atrium is placed between the infrastructure bundles of the interchange, it is structurally stabilizing and provides air, light and views. The slabs of urban material all have a top side that can function as a public soil. It is possible to program these with landscapes, parks, squares, swimming pools and sports facilities.
A high-rise traditionally includes a relatively big core. This core destroys the efficiency of the floor plans. In the compressor we atomized the core. It is exploded in ‘small’ particles and spread over the complete surface. We can do this by using the gigantic columns as tubes, supporting the slabs and at the same time functioning as infrastructural elements: structure becomes infrastructure. The columns are wide enough to accommodate emergency stairs, services, etc. Each column supports a ring of elevators around its perimeter.
The car elevators are combined in a tower and transport vehicles to a 150-m. height. A structural grid makes the vertical boulevard that runs through the main root shaped atrium and which is programmed with urban facilities. The boulevard is covered with a cloud of gondolas. These gondolas travel vertically as well as horizontally, programmed to avoid each other. Compared to traditional elevator systems many more ‘vehicles’ can travel in a vertical slot and the problems with stretching cables are past.


height 300 m
foot print 2.5 ha
floor plans 210 X 170 m = 35.000 m2
floors 7 slabs with each 9 floors
interface 5 floors, each one for a different kind of traffic flow
number of floors 68
gross floor area 2.300.000-m2
net floor area 1.300.000-m2
residential 26 % = 340,000 m2 = 2550 apartments / density = 900 apartments / ha (100 x 100 m.)
rest 74 % = housing related program, offices, commercial and cultural surface, services and parking