mei architects inscribes tower in utrecht with poetic verse about life in the city
mei architects inscribes tower in utrecht with poetic verse about life in the city mei architects inscribes tower in utrecht with poetic verse about life in the city
sep 15, 2016

mei architects inscribes tower in utrecht with poetic verse about life in the city


a new residential tower by mei architects and planners on the streets of churchilllaan, utrecht, hopes to revitalize property design in an area typified by post-war reconstruction. entitled ‘de verkenner’, or ‘scout’, the building stands as a gatekeeper to the district of kanaleneiland. the tower is comprised of a mixed architectural program of housing: there are 71 private sector dwellings in the upper portion, 15 social sector dwellings specifically for autistic youths, and 9 live-work units in the base of the building.


video courtesy of mei architects and planners




the facade of the building is ‘slow made’ with an emphasis on sourcing local materials and production techniques. tonally, the color of the exterior harmonizes with the surrounding brick buildings, but is itself made of concrete. the vertically focused design of the project is a response to the predominantly horizontal articulation of the flats that dominate the kanaleneiland area. in an attempt to reduce noise pollution in the living areas, mei architects and planners has designed ‘de verkenner’ as mostly closed in character, but balconies and openings increase towards the top of the building.

the building opens up dramatically on its southern face
image by ossip van duivenbode



this is especially true on the development’s sunny southern side, where de verkenner dramatically opens up, making way for balconies and outdoor spaces. to allow for optimal daylight penetration and warmth, the balconies here are made of ultra-strong concrete, just 7 cm thick. a typically neglected aspect of apartment design, the texture of the exterior extends onto the under-side of the protruding balconies, creating a cohesive, fully realized presentation. inside, de verkenner is outfitted with yellow rails and champagne-colored frames, a scheme the firm hopes will help brighten the development on even the rainiest of days.

yellow railings and champagne frame give the balconies a sunny feeling
image by ossip van duivenbode



in a personal touch, mei have collaborated with visual artist milou van ham and poet tsead bruinja to pepper the face of the building with custom made ceramic tiles, inscribed with lines of poetry. in keeping with their locally sourced mean of construction, the firm has enlisted the help of royal tichelaar makkum, the oldest company in the netherlands, to produce the tiles. the tiles, collectively entitled ‘rose & concrete’, are intended to be read either as individual poems or as part of a broader narrative. the verses tell stories of ordinary life — of living in flats, houses or apartments, in cities or towns — together. passers-by can combine and compare the poems, creating a fresh, exciting narrative each time, reflective of life in the city.


in an region of utrecht that has been flagged as a problem area by the dutch ministry of housing, the tiles are heartwarming addition to the building, encouraging a sense of history and community.

the terraces are built with ultra-strong concrete
image by ossip van duivenbode

the tiles cover the entire facade of the building
image courtesy of mei architects

the brick colored cement is designed to compliment its neighbors
image by ossip van duivenbode

15 units are designed for autistic youths, while 9 are live-work spaces
image by ossip van duivenbode

the southern face provides stunning views of utrecht
image by jeroen musch

the art project is entitled ‘rose & concrete’
image by jeroen musch

the tiles can be read as a collection, or unrelated
image by jeroen musch

the tower is vertically alligned, and soars above the surrounding buildings
image by ossip van duivenbode



project info:


location: al-masoedilaan 2-142, utrecht nl
program: 12.500 m2, 71 apartments, 9 live-work units, 15 apartments for autistic adolescents (stichting grasboom)
design: mei architects and planners
team mei: robert winkel, menno van der woude, robert platje, michiel van loon, reinoud van der zijde, roy wijte, jelena radonjic
client: mitros, utrecht
construction: era contour
realization: oct 2014 – apr 2016
structural engineer: pbt, delft
building physics: peutz
fire safety: peutz
cost consultant: basalt bouwadvies
facade artwork ‘rozen en beton’(roses and concrete): milou van ham, in association with moniek driessen
poem ‘rozen en beton’(roses and concrete): tsead bruinja, in association with milou van ham
concrete elements: decomo, belgium
ceramic tiles: royal tichelaar makkum
photos: jeroen musch & ossip van duivenbode



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: peter corboy | designboom

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