Dalem (NL), 2001



Donge Zone is a design for a compact village in an ecological corridor. Building homes and developing a nature reserve go hand in hand here. The Donge, the small river that was canalised for agricultural purposes for years, will be released to flow naturally again; a settlement inspired by life in old villages will rise up on its banks. Between the homes lies a farmyard where chickens, cats and dogs roam free and children can play freely to their heart’s content. Homes have verandas from which the villagers can enjoy the spectacle from their hammocks. The cars can reach the garages and homes via a subterranean street.

Two sources inspired us in the design of the homes and residential buildings: historic villages that grew organically over time, and herds of cows. What links these two things is the fact that no two houses in a village are identical and the same is true of the animals in a herd – and yet they share a common bond. Old houses often resemble animals to some extent, with their oddly shaped windows and thatched roofs that are subtly reminiscent of faces with eyes, mouth and hair.

Every home is different, even if only because it is positioned differently or occupies a unique place in the block. And every block of buildings consists of a different combination of homes. The result is a herd of buildings with sun porches, roof terraces, verandas and lovely mezzanines. They are like a herd of cows grazing on the riverbanks. Some are on the verge of crossing the river; one is independently doing its own thing, while others are lagging behind a bit, unaware that that the herd is on the move.


Name: Dongezone
Location: Reeshof, Tilburg (NL)
Program: 99 single-family homes with covered car parks, 44 apartments with garage and subterranean street
Surface area: 4,1 ha, 38,700 m2 gfa
Assignment: urban development plan, schematic design, design development, specifications
Period: 1999-2001
Status: Discontinued
Client: Nagron vastgoed, Crapts onroerend goed, Bouwpromotie Brabant Internmanagement


VenhoevenCS: Ton Venhoeven, Danny Esselman, Jos-Willem van Oorschot, Bart Aptroot, Peterine Arts, Ton Span, Anna Lacerda, Catarina Crespo
Images: VenhoevenCS