Roomburg housing by Snitker/Borst


Dutch architects Snitker/Borst have completed 48 split-level homes in Leiden, the Netherlands, according to the Ruamplan concept developed by architect Adolf Loos in the 1920s.

Called Roomburg, the development has a 400 metre-long façade, divided into three blocks.

Loos' theory recommends viewing buildings as a series of interlocking rooms overlooking one-another.

Interiors of the Roomburg project feature spiral staircases and split-level floors on the first storey.

Different types of brickwork are used on the plinth and upper levels, which recede from the street and have alternating balconies.

Here's some text from the architects:


The project is part of the new residential area Roomburg in Leiden, the Netherlands.

The houses are situated along the Octavialaan, which is the northern border of the subarea ‘Landscape’.

This is the last stage in the development of Roomburg. The façade wall is 400 meters long and it is divided into three blocks.

In the project we succeeded to make ‘Loosian’ dwellings with a larger ceiling height and a spatial section.

The project is inspired by the ‘raumplan’-villas of Adolf Loos. Snitker/Borst architects does research into the possibilities to create larger ceiling heights, especially in apartment buildings.

The research consists of the analysis of realized projects and the development of new spatial models.

The project in Roomburg contains 48 single-family houses with a floor space that varies between 158 and 175 m2.

The project consists of five housing types with alternating terraces.

A subtle linking of these five housing types results in a vivid façade with rhythm, relief and sculptural expression.

The cubist architecture from the twenties and thirties of Dutch architects like J.J.P. Oud, Jan Wils and J.B. van Loghem was a reference for the project.

The project has a small relief in the plinth and a more expressive relief in the upper structure.

The plinth and the upper structure are made in two kinds of brickwork.

They are separated by a zone of windows and prefabricated concrete elements on the first floor.

The façade recedes from the building line and the top floor terraces provide for extra space and light in the street.

The houses have a split-level floor on the first floor.

The split-level generates a living room with a ceiling height of 3,4 meter.

Also the rooms on the first floor at the street side have larger ceiling heights.

The split level floor creates a spatial staircase that makes the daylight fall into the heart of the house.

Client: Municipality of Leiden
Program: 48 single-family houses
Location: Roomburg, Leiden, the Netherlands
Architect: Leen Borst, Mark Snitker
Project team: Andrea Alvarez, Milos Dimitrijevic, Janfrans van der Eerden, Brigitte Kwa, Rudy Davi, Zsuzsanna Nagy
Contractor: Du Prie Bouw en Ontwikkeling
Structural engineer: Pieters bouwtechniek Haarlem
Start commission: 2005
Year of construction 2007-2009

Photographs exterior Roos Aldershoff
Photographs interior Dennis Sies


Posted on Tuesday February 2nd 2010 at 4:10 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Roger

    Pff.. I wouldn’t want to live there. Ok floorplans, but the street is depressing..

  • slater

    Well, if you happen to go to Leiden, be sure to visit in April for the Tulip festival/parade and visit the Botanical Gardens, absolutely stunning!

  • Tim

    To be honest, I don’t see too much Raumplan in there… Or am I alone in thinking that a split level on the second floor and a window from the staircase into the living room is quite all that Loos was about?
    Even though I see a quality in the floor plans and the facade, it lacks the expressiveness in the interior that one would expect of a house that so clearly tries to recall Loos and his Raumplan…

  • Ed

    Agree with Tim… My understanding of raumplan is that each rooms and floors should be varied in height and proportions depending on importance etc. The section shown here looks pretty rigid and conventional. In saying all that, I still really like the project though

  • Cintia

    Amazing, great job! I live in Leiden and I’d love to live in one of those!

  • Niels

    To me the architect really thought about the position of the different units against each other. I can believe the raumplan was an inspiration.
    However, in my opinion, this problem could be looked upon from a totally different angle. The entire project could be conceived as one building(instead of the repetition of a module), with a clear urban idea. That way the suroundings would have livened up, and there could probably be more public space. However, knowing the current tradition in the Netherlands, I think it still is a nice realisation. Especially because it builds upon other models.

  • schumi

    Its ok, but please when you design a row of houses/town house you NEED to somehow break up the monotony…. material/divisions whatever.

    i would not be very cheerful after a walk down this street

  • Abhi

    Not much of a Loos.Nice project yet.

  • Guido

    As a Dutchman I have to say, once again they succeeded in making a street of repetative houses. It makes modern Dutch streets look like cellblocks. Big BOOHOO

  • Well, I think this looks really good, and i like something like this on dezeen!

  • SouL

    To all the critics above ^^^ Roger, Slater and Tim

    ermmm, seems like you guys know a lot about architecture…but people, or shall I say ‘Masters’, spend some time reading the materiality of this project and how the building flows beautifully as one piece…

    These guys designed the building, not the location… so consider their technique of designing such thing in that location rather than wasting time picking out stupid stuff…

    Anyway, personally, I am loving the brick work and its tranquillity all over the structure.

    Bravo :)

  • eb nyc

    Brick color of plinth and top floors do not go together at all… an eyesore.

    But do see some of Loos positive “complexity” in interiors and appreciate intent of creating more interesting floor plans and interior quality.

  • star architect

    one of the nicest projects on the webpage. it’s far from depressing, it’s brutal, rough, and urban.. i’ve never heard of these architects before but they’re obviously thoughtful serious people. it’s not the usual dezeen stuff – silly stylish frivolities.

  • SarahdeK

    just plain depressing! What an insult to Loos!

  • james

    It’s really a pitty that all single house look the same in the Netherlands. We are glad that OMA exists in NL too! :-)

  • critique

    I have to agree, raumplan is only remotely present. however it is a gorgeous project. chapeau.

  • Rori

    Interesting simplification/abstraction of traditional interior details, e.g. square post and spindles instead of the ornate ones on the stair.

    Assume the 4th hinge is due to the doors’ weight. Is the location of the top hinge intentional or caused by fabrication error?

  • gab xiao

    thre’s nothing more exciting than a typical Duch housing block with windows that open views up to the back of the house – a whole intimate world becomes part of the street spectacle. I don’t understand where all these guys above find the complex depressing?!… Let’s suppose they haven’t grasped the Modernity lesson yet.

    I enjoy the diversity within repetition; the varigated staccatto of the block brings rythm and individuality to the architecture. Also, the whitish (precast?) concrete window frames enhance by contrast the warmth of the brick cladding. Otherwise it’s a nice and welcome revisitation of the older Neutelings Riedijk housing typologies – timeless pieces of modern urban housing. …and a subtle adjourning of the Amsterdam School, too!

  • neuhaus

    I like the warmth and texture of the brickwork.
    I don’t mind the somewhat monotomous look from the exterior, though the floor plan types should be mixed up more randomly so that the pushing and pulling of the facades creates more interesting shadow lines and patterning.

    The only thing jarring is the incredibly cheap and dated looking railing and stairs in the interior.

  • plopp

    I kind of like the volumes and floorplans, but the materials are depressing!
    The use of materials outside of the first floor is not very compelling, its hard and uninviting, and the floors inside reminds me of cheap office’s in the 80’s…

  • but why

    id imagine that the critiscist up there only like houses made of white shining render, this project has an inspiring materiality as far as im concerned and with a loosish twist :)

  • Zucht…immediately I felt sad, as if I were a voyeur stumbling upon the secret graveyard of hopes and dreams…