DeFlat Kleibrug: An Innovative Renovation

DeFlat Kleibrug: An Innovative Renovation

Posted on February 12, 2021 by martabuges

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Kleiburg is one of the biggest apartment buildings in the Netherlands: a bend slab with 500 apartments, 400 meters long, 10 + 1 stories high.

Kleiburg is located in the Bijlmermeer, a CIAM inspired residential expansion of Amsterdam designed in the 1960s by Siegfried Nassuth of the city planning department. De Bijlmer was intended as a green, light and spacious alternative for the inner city, which was degraded at the time.

The Bijlmer was designed as a single project, a composition of slabs based on a hexagonal grid, an attempt to create a vertical garden city.


Traffic modalities were radically separated: cars on elevated roads and bicycles and pedestrians on ground level. They would no longer share the same space.

Now the area houses about 100,000 people of over 150 nationalities.

The Bijlmermeer had a very optimistic start, but soon the enthusiasm for this radical residential area was overshadowed by fear for the unknown. Driven by heavily economized execution, bad publicity, a lack of understanding, poor maintenance and the sudden emergence of a new residential dream type – the suburban home – the Bijlmer turned into a slowly disintegrating parallel universe.

A renewal operation started in the mid-90s. The characteristic honeycomb slabs were replaced by mostly suburban substance, by “normality”.

However, it was decided to keep the most emblematic area intact, flanking the stunning, forever-futuristic elevated subway line. The so-called Bijlmer Museum came into being, a compact refuge for Bijlmer Believers. Kleiburg is the cornerstone of the remaining ensemble.


Kleiburg is the last building in the area still in its original state; in a way it is the “last man standing in the war on modernism”.

Housing Corporation Rochdale, however, had plans to demolish it. They calculated that a thorough renovation would cost about €70 million.

But bulldozing the masterpiece by architect Fop Ottenhof would have led to a collapse of the magnificent urban composition.

In anticipation of fierce resistance from “believers” and pressure from the local government, which hoped to avert demolition, Rochdale launched a campaign to rescue the building: Kleiburg was offered for €1 in an attempt to catalyze alternative, economically viable plans.

Over 50 parties responded with a range of ideas, from student or elderly housing to live-work units, or homes for the homeless.


Four teams were selected to further develop their ideas. Ultimately, Consortium De FLAT – consisting of KondorWessels Vastgoed, Hendriks CPO, Vireo Vastgoed and Hollands Licht – was chosen with their proposal to turn