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Photograph by Michel Boesveld.


Project added 01 Jun 1995
Project type housing

Housing study for Leidsche Rijn near Utrecht, the Netherlands, commissioned by the Leidsche Rijn Project Office and BVR Bakker and Van Rijs Consultants, 1994-1995.

Matthijs Bouw and Joost Meuwissen

Six under a Tennis Court is a proposal for a residential neighbourhood in Leidsche Rijn, a new town west of Utrecht. It is a comment on the traditional Dutch way of making neighbourhoods, with a perspectivist urbanism that places new streets and axes and landmarks on a tabula rasa, using an anal, unconsciously modernist architecture with clever corner solutions that solidify the urban geometry. We wanted a neighbourhood that was free of this architecture, and more related to contemporary culture.
All houses have a tennis court on the roof. The entire area can be thought of as a tennis park, but simultaneously as a strictly residential area.
An architectural result of this simple idea is that the fences of the tennis courts give the houses a colossal order, as it is called in classical architecture, which systematically resolves the problem of the expression of storeys in the façade. Instead of two storeys in the house, we now have two things: house and tennis fence. This means that, liberated from the need to express the storeys, the architectural elements – windows and doors – can be determined freely and individually. Two things on top of each other make the order within the things unimportant. On an urban scale, this colossal order of tennis fences means that the area need not be held together by some geometric system of axes and landmarks: it is simply filled with tennis.
Playing tennis on the roof, however privately it is played, always gives one the feeling of being on television. Of all the sports that are neither collective (football) nor individual (running), tennis provokes this feeling of being on television most. Even people who do not play tennis get this feeling. One should always have the feeling of being on television instead of being secured by a security camera. The programme of the exterior can be a television programme, because TV images are without ‘discipline and punishment.’
Six under a Tennis Court proposes an architecture that is not about space or geometry anymore, but about tennis, television and the sun. It proposes an architecture that is, most of all, about the freedom of the individual in understanding and using the world around us.

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