Rosa Spier †

Heaven on earth, ain’t no heaven on earth nowhere…

According to the national newspaper De Telegraaf the Rosa Spierhuis will soon be demolished.

The Rosa Spier is a home for elderly. A very special home, intended primarily for artists and scientists; it features ateliers with shed roofs for Northern light, a gallery for exhibitions and a theater / concert hall.

The Rosa Spier is located in Laren, the Beverly Hills of the Netherlands. It is conveniently situated in the woods near the village center, and the Singer Museum. And not far from the local hotspot Het Bonte Paard.

The layout is spacious. The gardens, designed by Mien Ruys, are visible from the corridors and the rooms. The corridors in fact form a museum; the inhabitants use the walls to show their work. The corridor becomes a billboard for the residents, a personalized interface. In the process turning Gross floor space into Net.

But the Rosa Spier does no longer comply with regulations for care institutions. Bathrooms and living rooms are too small. (Says who?) And the corridors and the doors are too narrow. Interestingly within the strict regime of the Gross / Net Proportion that rules contemporary construction and that squeezes all excess space out of today’s architecture some components are actually forced to be relatively spacious: wheel chairs and rolling beds define the minimum space. So potentially an ideal space for showing art could be the derivative, a by product. But then again, if the corridors in the new facility will become bigger, economizing has to take place elsewhere. Lower ceilings?

The retirement home will be relocated. On the current site about six luxury villa’s can be realized. The new Rosa Spier will be placed along highway A1 (elderly suffer from hearing problems anyways?) directly next to the mysterious sex club Boccaccio. It isn’t entirely clear what strategic symbiotic relationship is to be expected of this proximity… Maybe the claim that Boccaccio is the world’s first sex club with a golf course has something to do with it…

In 2003 -at the time very interested in the effects of aging and its consequences for Architecture and Planning- we dropped by the Rosa Spier. The vernissage of an exhibition of the famous photographer (and prominent Rosa Spier-resident) Eva Besnyö seemed the perfect occasion.

The clever thing about making a gallery part of the institute is that, besides introducing constantly chancing interesting content, fresh blood, new faces and old friends can enter the compound; it turns the usually suffocating communal space into a dynamic, public room.

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