WHAT architecture - London

Flyover House

Housing on blighted sites
Scale10000 sqm
LocationVerge - NL
ClientRijkwaterstad Netherlands
Budget€ 100000
Design Year2001

WHAT_architecture in association with Mecanoo Architecten

This project was manifest as a brainstorming think-tank funded by the Dutch Water and Highways (RWS) to investigate ‘the verge’ as a potential development site for housing.


Given the high population density of the Netherlands, living space comes at a premium. This has resulted in a considerable amount of spatial investigation and, importantly, quantification. The interstitial spaces, spaces leftover between the city and its infrastructure, are today undergoing renewed scrutiny in a search for more efficient land use. These lessons in spatial economics are, however, not limited to just Netherlands. In most western cities, the same commercial conditions of supply and demand can be overlaid to serve as an urban memo for an accelerated future. Where the same conflicts will exist unless confronted: the car up against the city. The verge, that no man’s land between the road and its landscape, is our terrain vague. Relatively cheap yet highly accessible, the potential exists to merge the verge into its surrounds: to install the residential within the residual. Within this context, the Flyover House is an artificial site that accommodates a small car-dependent commuter community. To counter the noise and asphalt aesthetic, landscaping and planting form hedge conditions such that, from inside your home, the road disappears from view. Being a hybrid, some of the qualities implicit to a bridge – such as linearity - are deliberately foresaken in favour of a plane of increased social interactivity – less Ponte Vecchio than elevated Albert Square! The flyover house occupies no more space than the road below: in doing it simultaneously offers the road a feature - a tunnel; a dark space that is one truly stimulating drive-by experience. Street signs are replaced by road signs and one’s house is accessed directly via an off-ramp. Highway architecture: no middle-of-the-road building!