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De Koningin - Kraanbolwerk


The Kraanbolwerk, a peninsula just a stone’s throw away from the historic city centre of Zwolle, has been redesigned to create a unique residential zone. On behalf of property developer Van Wonen Vastgoedontwikkeling, Zecc Architecten designed De Koningin (The Queen) – an apartment block – and eight townhouses. This imposing city island combines urban influences with a characterful sense of intricacy. The Kraanbolwerk is anything but a standard suburban residential development.

The Kraanbolwerk, surrounded by the Zwarte Water River, previously served as a defensive bastion to protect the inner harbour and crane gate of this Hanseatic city. Its unique location at the heart of the city traditionally provided ideal conditions for trade and industry to develop. The Thorbeckegracht was characterised by a mixture of merchants’ houses and luxury canal-side mansions and the Friesewal was known for its warehouses. The demolition of the old factories and warehouses created space for a diverse programme of residential buildings on top of a parking layer. The development and positioning of the new residential properties deliberately took advantage of the historic atmosphere of the narrow alleyways and intimate courtyards.

City silhouette

With its ten floors, De Koningin is the tallest building in the Kraanbolwerk. The industrial heritage played an instrumental role in the design process, which aimed to create a building that is a combination of a warehouse and a palace. A building with an expressively rich visual language. The tall roof section with double dormer windows features palatial references, and the vertical brick pilasters reflect the area’s industrial character and warehouse architecture. The pilasters provide clear direction to the building, giving it a stately, chic appeal. With her gold-coloured metal-plated roof, this Queen literally comes complete with her own crown. This adds a new silhouette to the Zwolle cityscape alongside the familiar Peperbus tower. For the whole Kraanbolwerk area, De Koningin also serves as a gateway because the entrance to the car park for the whole peninsula is located here. This made its construction even more complex.

The Ladies in Waiting

Any ‘Queen’ is incomplete without her ‘ladies in waiting’. De Koningin building and the eight townhouses have just this relationship. The two structures have been derived from each other. Both come complete with a gold-coloured metal roof and vertical masonry work. However, the ladies in waiting mark a shift in scale compared to De Koningin.

Alongside the industrial references, sustainability played a key role in this project. The entrances all feature natural stone. This material ages over the course of the years, enhancing the building’s appearance as time passes. The building rests well within its historic city centre context, nestling nicely in the city atmosphere. It is climate- and rain-proof because the height gauge of the residential properties deliberately takes account of a potential future increase in water levels. The golden crown is also fitted with solar panels.

Vibrant and varied

The result is a particularly varied range of residential properties. The apartments in De Koningin vary in size from 35 sq. m. to 190 sq. m. These range from small starter flats on the lower floors to large penthouses at the top with a living area more than five times the size of the smaller flats. The interior effectively takes account of the position of outdoor areas allowing for privacy and orientation, views, natural daylight, and flexible layouts.

The eight townhouses come complete with garden and optional roof terrace and are located between cosy streets and squares. A narrow private zone for the residential properties features seating and a covered area, ensuring residents have a place of their own. The studio apartments also all feature a private area facing the street, adding even more vibrancy to the street scene. Together with her ladies in waiting, De Koningin forms a well-balanced mix of small-scale warmth and urban living.

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