ALO+, named after the acronym for the ‘Academy for Physical Education’, which was previously housed here, is located on the border between the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe, on the border between sand and clay, on the border between city and countryside. Laan Corpus den Hoorn, an important approach road to the centre of Groningen, forms the northern edge of the site. Van Swietenlaan and the Martini Hospital lie on the eastern side, a small-scale neighbourhood forms its southern border, and green sports pitches – part of the urban ecological main structure – flank it to the west. An ambitious urban programme of 50,000 m2, set in a landscape context, with a strong wall along the city side, is planned on this 2.5-hectare site.
The tension between the existing urban area and landscape qualities calls for a solid and powerful gesture, a plan strong enough in its own right to stimulate the continued development of the immediate surroundings. This has resulted in the design of an urban ensemble of three blocks that form a single entity and a neighbourhood in itself.
ALO+ is the design of an urban ensemble of three blocks that form a single entity and a neighbourhood in itself
ALO+ makes a strong urban gesture on Laan Corpus den Hoorn. It becomes part of the interplay of morphological forms made up of high-rise structures in Groningen. The slightly rotated corner of the tower and the curve of the road create depth and perspective. The encounter between city and countryside is articulated in various ways. On the city side, a wall acts as a firm urban anchor that contrasts with the softer, stepped transition to the park landscape on the western side.
The ensemble is sturdy and robust yet open and transparent in appearance. Collective spaces are green in character and designed like greenhouses.
The addition of extra programme, such as wellness and fitness facilities, a swimming pool and sauna, work spaces and a bar, makes the greenhouse in the North Block the living room of the scheme. The square-shaped Middle Block contains a hidden garden filled with exuberant greenery along the galleries. The greenhouse in this block contains tropical plants that purify grey water that is reused locally. The reservoir in the greenhouse acts as a water buffer that reduces peak demand on the sewer system. The greenhouse in the South Block houses a café and is linked to the entrance of the mobility hub. The greenhouse is also connected to the collective vegetable garden within the block.
The main material on the facades is the red brick typical of Groningen. These bricks are recycled and give a new lease of life to material salvaged from homes and farmhouses hit by earthquakes in the region. This connects the new piece of city to its surroundings, anchoring it in its context. The facade composition features sturdy, repeating frames on the city side. The facades along the side streets are composed of vertical piers of brickwork in a varied rhythm that ensures privacy, while the terraces and large openings open up the smaller-scale facades to the landscape on the park side.
The project adds new green spaces, stimulates interaction and encounters, and offers space for urban farming and energy generation. In this way, the design supports a “healthy lifestyle”
The project adds green spaces, stimulates interaction and encounters, and offers space for urban farming and energy generation. In this way, the design supports a ‘healthy lifestyle’.
Linking the sustainability measures to the ‘greenhouse’ theme weaves sustainability and programme tightly together. Each building block has its own sustainability focus, in which the physical appearance – the greenhouse – ties together the various elements architecturally.