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Home to the world’s largest seaport, the Dutch city of Rotterdam has been a hub of commerce for nearly a millennium. In the 21st century, however, it is almost as well known as a hub of contemporary architecture. A stroll through the compact urban centre sees historic Dutch buildings paired with innovative, eye-catching designs by the likes of Piet Blom, Rem Koolhaas and Ben van Berkel, not to mention hometown architecture idols MVRDV. Outside the urban core, the intimate village of Maasland is now home to another notable — albeit more understated — addition, the Moos Euterpe community of modular social housing.

Designed by multi-disciplinary Amsterdam-based studio Concrete, the cluster of 30 homes was constructed using a prefabricated, stackable kit of parts. Each of the apartments — which range from studio suites to four-bedroom residences — comprises two types of modules, which can be connected in a variety of arrangements.

A “basic” module is outfitted with facilities (and plumbing connections) for a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom, while a more open “personal” module — a simple box with floor-to-ceiling fenestration — can be configured as a variety of settings, from an open lounge to a home office or bedroom, with an opportunity to connect the indoor space to a veranda. The two modules are then connected on-site with what the designers describe as a simple “plug and play” procedure. (And while the two-storey Moos Euterpe is relatively modest in size and density, the Moos concept allows for towers up to 70 metres tall).

Fabricated in an off-site setting (where interior finishes, fixtures and window frames are also completed), the modules are desinged with a structure of cross laminated timber (CLT), as well as thermally efficient triple-pane wood frame windows. Although these durable materials entail a considerable upfront carbon cost, the rugged design allows the modules — which are built to provide permanent homes — to be demounted and re-assembled if needed, which allowing the structures to serve as temporary housing. In specifying the materials, Concrete also sought to utilize recycled (and recyclable) or bio-based materials where possible, including the salvaged concrete floors.

The Moos housing concept — which stands for “In the Middle Of Our Street,” in a nod to the Madness song of the same name — is already set to be implemented at several sites across the Netherlands, with 500 units in the works. As the first project to be completed, Moos Euterpe offers an early proof of concept. Here, twin rows of stacked, two-storey CLT modules frame a future shared garden, with their green stairs and verandas overlooking the 2,000-square-metre site’s nascent social hub.

According to Concrete partner and head of architecture Erikjan Vermeulen, the Moos Euterpe garden — which will become more verdant and lively in the spring — will contribute to a sense of place that’s already becoming instilled as residents move in. “Moos provides more than just a house; it provides a home, one that residents can take pride in,” says Vermeulen. “It’s more than just a place to live; it’s a solid foundation for personal growth and well-being. Moos creates a sense of belonging, making social housing social again.”

In Rotterdam, Modular Housing Meets a Community Garden

The 30-unit Moos Euterpe social housing complex is the inaugural project completed using a novel system of prefabricated CLT modules.

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