New Energy for the Aktiegroep

  • Social Spaces

The Aktiegroep Oude Westen is a social organisation housed in a historic building in Rotterdam where residents work collectively to improve the neighbourhood. Our office is also housed in this former cloister. We support the Aktiegroep in the acquisition, strategy, and sustainability goals for the building. We believe that it is not ideal for a residents’ organisation to settle in a building overhauled in one go by engineers with only high-tech sustainability goals. Instead, our plan is to begin a visible path toward sustainability with the neighbours that goes further than just appearance and technology.

Design Brief

Illustrate how this dated building can transform into a place where  sustainability and the energy-transition are made visible in the older neighbourhoods in Rotterdam.

Make, in addition to the existing programming, rental of (work) spaces possible in a balanced budget.

Project Details

Gaffelstraat 1, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

November 2020 – Present

Vision, Renovation, Sustainability

Project Team
Open Kaart, together with Martijn Droge (BOOM)


The former chapel, with its stained-glass windows on the second floor, is the most characteristic historical element in the building. The chapel is currently difficult to utilize due to its size and location. Our proposal is to break open the floor and create a spacious stairwell that makes the striking ceiling and stained-glass window visible for everyone. This approach tells the story of the Aktiegroep and shows literally how the building can become sustainable. Through this design we can add an extra storey and reduce the amount of split levels in the building. This provides for more comprehensive navigation and space for a lift.

We are currently researching different possibilities to make the building more accessible for visitors

A new window at street-level in the non-monumental portion of the front façade provides a more direct relationship between the building and its surroundings.

The public programming is all relocated to the ground floor, which frees up the upper floors for workspace rental with shared facilities.

The relationship with the neighbouring elementary school remains intact.


The crux of the proposal is perhaps the energy-concept provided by Martijn Droge (BOOM). The Aktiegroep envisions a plan executed in phases. Currently, heating the historic building is the largest expense; the boiler house is therefore shared with the neighbouring elementary school and the housing located on its roof. Usually, insolation is the first step toward sustainability, followed by research into sustainable production options to cover the energy needs of the users. We propose turning that process on its head.

Insolating a historic building is costly, while there is a chance here to connect to a geothermal heat pump together with the school, nursing home and residences in the block. In doing so, you utilize the geothermal resources and switch to sustainable energy in one step. If you then insulate the building, you free up geothermal production capacity so that more neighbours can connect to it. You save energy, not just for yourself, but as an opportunity for the neighbourhood


An "open resource" for the whole building block

Added Value

Insolating as an opportunity – with this customized approach the Aktiegroep can do what they’re good at: starting an on-going process where more and more residents can join in. It is not only investing in sustainable energy but also contributing to a future-proof neighbourhood.

Project Location

Related to this project

Projects, news and articles related to the Aktiegroep.

Want to know more?

or call +31 (0)6-18539418