The Peperklip, an eye-catching residential block in the Feijenoord district of Rotterdam, is a prime example of how the city has been made resilient and flexible. The contours of resilience are increasingly visible in the complex, which is home to 1,300 people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. The courtyard is to receive colourful paintings and a variety of wildlife. Energy coaches will also be available to help residents make savings.
Housing corporation Vestia is carrying out extensive maintenance on the social housing complex, which was designed by architect Carlos Weeber in the shape of an opened out paperclip. From the facades and stairwells to the window frames and the homes themselves, the entire complex is being renovated. This maintenance is the driving force for Vestia and the municipality to take a broader view of the refurbishment and prepare De Peperklip for the future.
Multifunctional green space
The 7,000m2 of roof space offers an excellent opportunity to add a green touch to the complex. The construction of a bio-diverse roof will begin in 2019, thanks to a LIFE grant intended for innovative nature and environmental projects; the roof will provide air conditioning on hot summer days and collect rainwater during heavy showers. Biodiversity permeates the courtyard which, by 2020, will also attract butterflies, bees and birds through a variety of shrubs and trees.
A place to call home
How do you involve the cultural mix of residents in making De Peperklip resilient? It all starts with young people - it's up to them to make it 'their place'. In May, together with a graffiti artist, children will design a large mural for the wall by the basketball court, which is currently still bare. Inspired by a tour of the local flora and fauna with a forest ranger, the children will paint their views of nature and sustainability on paving slabs. The slabs will be used to create a lively tiled path in the courtyard.
Saving energy and costs
Vestia hires energy coaches from the Energiebank, a foundation that helps households permanently reduce their energy bills. Volunteers with energy-saving measures such as LED lamps, water-saving shower heads and radiator reflectors will be available to visit De Peperklip if requested by the residents. Together, they will look at how energy costs can be reduced, for example by taking shorter showers and lowering the height of heaters. Garden coaches are also on hand to support residents who cannot maintain their own garden or help those who don’t have green fingers to make something of their green space.
Economically, resilience is bearing fruit. Three residents who have previously struggled to find work are now working on De Peperklip’s maintenance team. They are working for Vestia’s contractor through the municipality’s Werkgeverservicepunt (employment service). This form of social return on investment has been so successful that the public housing agency is considering involving more local residents who receive social assistance benefits for similar maintenance projects.