• YEAR : 2006
  • LOCATION : Enschede, the Netherlands
  • CATEGORY : Mixed-use

Triade - Completing the Citadel of Enschede

Winning proposal for the Europan 8 competition, the mixed-use design proposal for Triade can be understood as the amalgamation of ingredients. The European city, the egg of Enschede, the citadel, the cultural axis, the location, the Triade, the programme and the character, give the project its expression by being blended simultaneously. The sophisticated intertwining of historical and artistic heritage, modern living, technological advancements, and being surrounded by a natural habitat gives uniqueness to European towns, which will continue to attract people for centuries. Human comfort, sustainability, mised-uses and energy efficiency are the key components of a city that wants to survive within a global economy.

Following these principles, Enschede is a town rooted within this context, which still greatly defines its appearance. The old town centre, the egg, the nineteenth century industrial complexes, its garden town and the citadel of the New Town with the regional civic facilities are components of an exemplary history of European mid-sized towns, though specific and singular in its manifestation. A synergy has to be sought with this context so that all attention can be put on establishing a comfortable, sustainable and energy efficient environment.


The C_itadel


The egg-shaped nucleus of Enschede, the city heart, is surrounded by a belt of public facilities such as hospitals, schools and government buildings, which cater to a regional scale. This C-shaped “C_itadel” of large dimensioned complexes ends just at the place where the Gemeentewerf begins. The character of the Gemeentewerf would demands for a similar approach in scale. While associating with the character of the C_itadel, a Triade of three building blocks marks the gateway along the cultural axis from the northern part of Enschede toward the city heart.

The mixed-use project de-fragments a neglected part of the city, by adding new fragments through which relations between the different elements becomes coherent. These fragments are organised according to the typology of the industrial complex, which allows integration within its historical context as well as is flexible enough to allow current social and economic dynamics to reinterpret it.

A “ceintuur” (belt) of encircling walls on the periphery of the site creates a silent haven in the central court. Here, the city chamber is defined in space by a heterogeneous framework, a passepartout of low-rise and high-rise blocks. The ceintuur is punctuated at places to allow visual connections to the surroundings, and letting green areas interact with the internal court. The Triade marks a momentary sense of pause along the cultural route, while the mixed-use blocks of the Triade are set back from the periphery in order to inspire curiosity from the outside, as well as providing a distance towards the existing garden town villas.




Because the city chamber is undefined in programme and anonymous in character, it is the confrontation of relationships it has with its different defining elevations which give it its expression. Public space is only homogenously experienced through televised media in the safe interiors of private spaces. But outside of it, public space is different for everyone, creating a platform for diversity. The mixed-use project is part of a city, not a city in itself. In experiencing the ribbon of the cultural route and the immediate context, the project chameleonises with the existing. It is quiet and introverted yet present and distinguishable, leaving a lasting impression on one’s subconscious memory.

The project takes a stance on the utopia of nature by allowing for different types of natural environments to coexist. Keeping the beautiful existing trees and proposing manmade botanical gardens and greenhouse, Triade creates a productive type of nature and environment.

Triade also addresses the issue of densification, and recognises it as a solution to reduce pressure on the surrounding landscapes, a means by which fragmented and neglected part of the city are allowed to be reorganised into a place that will belong to the city as a whole, as well as to its immediate context.


Social Sustainability


A project is sustainable when it is able to absorb a wide variety of programs over time, within a range of potential scenarios. Because of the uncertain socio-economic trends the project is flexible and mixed-use, built in phases and bears a sense of complete while in progress. The project is technocratic in essence not unlike the nature of industrial production. This typology is humanised to a design, in which processes of adjustments and transformations fill the gap between built space and used space.

Triade is a project that does not intend to override the existing by claiming to be better. It attempts to work within the already set parameters to meet the demands of the present times and lifestyles of people, providing a better quality of life to those who seek it. By preserving as much as possible of the urban fabric and significant vegetation the project is made to adjust itself till it fits into the present context and is absorbed by the multiple layers of its precedents.

Project Data

Project Name



Enschede, the Netherlands




Competition, Mixed-use, Masterplan


City, Mixed Use, Urban Design, Density



Design Team


56.000 sq.m.


Public Space, Gardens, Housing, Greenhouses, Rooftops, Community Centre, Commercial, Office Space, Sports Facilities

triade site sketch

Sketch showing the polycentric cultural chain of Enschede

view perspective

Impression of the entirety of the Triade

triade site analysis

Urban Elements of the Town

netherlands material

Industrial heritage of Dutch centres serving as inspiration

masterplan netherlands

Urban Masterplan Design

green landscape

The existing green areas and trees within the site are retained

triade site analysis

Site Strategy Diagram

model architecture

Competition Model

aerial view

Aerial view of the development

plan housing

Floor Plans of housing units

elevation drawing

Site Section AA’

elevation drawing

Site Section BB’

external view public space

View of the development and the public square

competition details section

Details showing (left to right): section through the glasshouse, patios of the dwellings, section through winter gardens and the Triade loggias

public space nature
night view