This research aims to contribute to a better understanding of the heritage significance of post-war housing and how this can be integrated in future sustainable refurbishments. The research is applied to the Western Garden Cities, a post-war urban expansion of Amsterdam, which has recently received heritage significance recognition, being listed as one of the post-war neighbourhoods of the Netherlands that is ‘of national importance’.
While the urban design and spatial qualities have been studied extensively, the architecture and individual buildings have received little attention; almost all the buildings are not individually protected and less is known about what constitutes their significance. The area has suffered insidious decline, with overdue maintenance resulting in low spatial and technical quality, and very poor energy performance. Partly caused by the increased heritage recognition, large scale demolition plans have recently shifted towards large scale refurbishment plans.
The first of both research projects on the Amsterdam garden cities aims at identifying the heritage significance of post-war housing in sufficient detail to inform refurbishment design decisions. Next to this the research attempts to integrate heritage significance, environmental impact and hygrothermal risk in the evaluation of refurbishment design decisions of post-war housing.
The parallel research project responds to the question how to do justice to the cultural values that are embedded in the original design of the Western garden cities, which were internationally acclaimed as showcases for the latest architectural and urban ideas. That calls for a thorough evaluation of the qualities that were seen as innovative at the time they were built and an analysis of the interventions that were carried out since. The outcome may inspire concrete intervention processes in post-war housing estates with well-founded expertise of their cultural values, allowing policymakers and designers to make justified decisions.