VanWonen spreads its wings in fast-growing Brabant

Publication, Area and Property Development

North Brabant is one of the fastest growing regions in our country. Reason enough for area developer VanWonen to spread its wings here too, with a team that has its roots in Brabant. The first development totals 250 homes and is located right in the heart of Knoop XL in Eindhoven. And VanWonen's ambitions reach even further. The magazine Brabant in Ontwikkeling ('Brabant in Development') interviewed our colleagues: Project Developer Pieter Diepenhorst and Development Managers Bart Arts and Jochem van Uden.

When VanWonen was established - five years ago - the area developer focused mainly on the market in the northeast of our country. But the ambitions of this young developer reach further than this part of the Netherlands. With four offices - in Zwolle, Groningen, Utrecht and Nijmegen - the company is ready to serve the majority of the Dutch provinces.
Why the expansion into the province of North Brabant? ‘That has everything to do with the impressive growth of this province,’ says development manager Jochem van Uden. We used to refer to the four big cities, but now it’s better to say ‘the big five’. And the market is not only booming in the Brainport region, but also in the rest of North Brabant. Reason enough for VanWonen to establish a team here.’ 
It is no coincidence that a large part of this team has its roots in Brabant. We talk to three team members: project developer Peter Diepenhorst and development managers Bart Arts and Jochem van Uden. 

Well-versed in Brabant 
‘Five years ago VanWonen started with a team of twelve people. Now the company has almost seventy employees. In 2021, we achieved 902 home sales. The ambition for this year is to sell a thousand homes. Because of these home sales, we have to restock our pipeline with new locations, new developments. We are putting a lot of effort into realizing some of these acquisitions in Brabant,’ Bart Arts continues. Our team knows the region well and maintains close contacts with local parties. In other words: we are well-versed in Brabant and that is a good thing, because even though the real estate market is large and always in motion, here too parties connect with our vision of creating homes and living environments for the healthiest generations.’ 

Doing more than making beautiful buildings 
The housing shortage. The nitrogen crisis. The energy and materials transition. These are exciting, yet challenging times in the world of property development. ‘We aim to turn all this into a smooth process. We do that by getting in touch with municipalities and the local community. We do that by developing as sustainably as possible and we do that by building as fast as possible,’ adds Jochem van Uden. ‘Area development is not just about delivering a project, it’s also about creating added value for the area in question. In that respect we are by no means a traditional developer. We are strongly committed to sustainability. We have our own sustainability manifesto, in which we set the bar higher for ourselves each year. And sustainability is not just about building zero-energy homes, but also about social sustainability and involving residents. Promoting social cohesion is high on our agenda. We do this by including permanent meeting places, playgrounds and sports fields in our developments. And as corporate partners of the Health Funds for a Smoke-free Netherlands, we create smoke-free zones, so that children can grow up, play and live in a healthy environment. And we organize annual events such as neighbourhood barbecues in these areas, which also contributes to another VanWonen ambition: lasting involvement. We want to do more than making beautiful buildings.’ 

Where possible, VanWonen also strives for inclusiveness in its developments. The developer creates neighbourhoods in which there is room for various target groups. ‘We prefer not to create neighbourhoods with only social housing or only houses for the happy few. We create living environments with a diversity of functions and residents, resulting in neighbourhoods everyone enjoys living in.’

Knoop XL
Peter Diepenhorst: ‘The first VanWonen development in Brabant will be De Vierlander, part of the Knoop XL plan area in Eindhoven.’ Knoop XL includes the inner-city area around the central train station - from the PSV stadium to Dommelvallei. Only two hundred people live here now, but in the next fifteen years, this number will grow to 16,000 residents in 9,000 homes. ‘Concrete steps have already been taken in this development and we are confident that the zoning procedures will be started in the near future. What’s more, the municipality has indicated that with our development we are the front runner -on the north side- of Knoop XL. We have already scheduled the demolition and expect to start the construction work at the end of next year.’ 

VanWonen will develop approximately 250 homes - designed by architectural firm Mecanoo – at this location. On the ground level there will be commercial facilities. ‘In this development, too, it’s not only the building that we are looking at, but also the surroundings. We are going to landscape the existing, asphalted parking deck as much as possible in order to offer the future users a valuable and pleasant environment. In addition, we will ensure that the houses have well-oriented outdoor spaces and a roof garden at city level. It’s great to take part in the transformation of this area. In the coming years, the grey office blocks will make way for beautiful residential buildings and the current arterial road -Fellenoord- will be transformed into a green, pedestrian-friendly city boulevard. The horizon for the total development is fifteen years. We expect that our development will be there within five years. Why we expect to complete it so quickly? That’s because the infrastructure is already there and because of our ambitions. As far as we’re concerned, building doesn’t have to take terribly long.’ 

In this development, like in its other projects, VanWonen is setting the bar high in terms of sustainability. In the design process, there is a strong ambition to achieve the BENG-3 standard (the energy-use should consist as much as possible of renewable and sustainable energy). The building will therefore be connected to a system for seasonal thermal energy storage (STES). And in addition to the green roofs, PV panels will be installed on the highest roofs. This greening also makes water retention possible. Because the rainwater is retained, flooding is prevented during downpours. The green roofs on the building also contribute to this. The landscaping will limit heat stress in the area. This way, we create an attractive, sustainable, safe and pleasant environment to relax in and meet others near De Vierlander. 

Last but not least: VanWonen also chooses to reuse materials from the existing building. The concrete façades will be used for the grounds around the building, and De Paddenstoel (‘the mushroom’), a historical landmark of the area, will also be given a new location.

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