Designer: MUST Urbanism (Netherlands); Collaborators: De Key and Eigen Haard housing organizations, municipality of Amsterdam (Netherlands); Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Year: 2018

Startblok Elzenhagen is the second of three affordable housing developments designed to create community between young refugees and Dutch youth, ages 18–28. They live together while working and attending school, helping each other as they start life in Amsterdam. The designers, MUST Urbanism, approached the physical and social design of the housing as a city—a system of connections and interactions between people of different backgrounds—providing a variety of shared public spaces. Hallways in the buildings act like small neighborhood streets where numerous chance encounters can occur, with common areas for amenities and social activities. Large balconies on each floor expand the hallway’s utility.

Image: Residents’ interests determine how the shared spaces are used; Photo: Rufus de Vries © MUST Urbanism, Amsterdam