Junk Space You Need

Interview with Alex van de Beld, Onix Architecten


  • Eric Frijters Fabrications
  • Olv Klijn Fabrications


For many people the term woonerf conjures up an image of 1970s housing characterized by outmoded ideals from a bygone era. Over the decades, the awkwardly meandering structures, the bare outdoor spaces, the cluttered effect and the nondescript architecturehave come under attack. A few examples have retained their appeal, but on the whole, the term, once so influential, has come to stand for stuffy, drab structures, which find little favour with town planners today. Not everyone subscribes to this view, however. Onix Architects is one of the few firms in the Netherlands openly promoting the notion of the erf (yard) as a concept for shared living. Its architecture and terminology combine nostalgic references to small-scale living, rural communities, barns, and so forth with modern forms of communal living. For example, it has taken the typology of the erf and transferred it to a sheltered home zone or woonzorgerf, where people who need care share a sheltered environment thus allowing them to live independently for longer. The ideas were developed in a study called ‘Nieuwe erven: een onderzoek naar kansen voor een zorgeloos dorpsleven’ (New kinds of erven: an investigation into opportunities of living a carefree village life), which was published jointly with DAAD. In Almere another erf development was conceived around a group of veranda houses; in this instance the erf had no shelter function. We asked Onix architect Alex van de Beld about the erf concept and how he believes it can be developed today.

Author Biographies

Eric Frijters, Fabrications

Eric Frijters, founding partner and principal at FABRICations, Professor (Lector) Future Urban Regions (FUR) at the Dutch Academies of Architecture. Eric has over 15 years of experience in designing and executing projects in architecture, urbanism and consulting in regional strategies in the Netherlands and abroad. He has a background in architecture at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam and graduated Cum Laude at the Eindhoven University of Technology. His research is being published in several books and various journals and Eric received recognition for his work with several prizes (Prix de Rome, Iakov Chernikhov International Architecture Prize) as a designer, that stands in the field and experiments with innovative architecture, education and research in architecture and urbanism. As of June 2013 he is leading the research group Future Urban Regions focusing on healthy urbanization, design thinking methodology and testing results for productive strategies on urban metabolism in studios at Academies of Architecture.

Olv Klijn, Fabrications

Olv Klijn is Principal at FABRIC – architecture, urbanism, regional strategies and Assistant Professor at the chair of Dwelling at the Technical University Delft. He studied architecture at the Eindhoven University of Technology and graduated Cum Laude. As an artist in residence Klijn studied the impact of current urbanization patterns at the American West Coast stayed at the Banff Centre in Canada. Klijn is (co)author of several books such as ‘VMX Agenda’, ’10 x Den Bosch’, ‘Station Centraal’, ‘Architect by accident’ and ‘The making of ...’ and published in various journals. In 2007 he founded FABRIC together with Eric Frijters and as of then involved in the design and research of architecture, urbanism and regional strategies. In 2010 they won the Prix de Rome, the price for architects up to 35 years. In 2011 Klijn was recognized as one of the 40 emerging European architects under 40 years old. One year later he was nominated for the Iakov Chernikhov International Architecture Prize ‘for designers, that stand in the field experiment with innovative architecture, education and research in architecture and urbanism’.