Present-day Tilburg is built on an underlying structure of shepherd’s trails, connecting small communities of farmers grouped around a communal triangular space. Throughout the centuries the trails were aligned with dwellings, gradually urbanising the landscape. Today, the voids between these ribbon developments still present in the city have the potential of constituting a series of green public spaces, a second layer of Tilburg.How can we strengthen the identity of the city by means of increasing the density of its centre, yet reinforcing the qualities of the public void?


Offsetting the site perimeter with a ribbon of dwellings creates a large public space. We circumscribe the shepherd’s garden in order to identify, to conserve, to describe, and to reinterpret it. Existing buildings and trees affect the shape of the ribbon, subdividing the interior into interconnected areas. From the outside only fragments can be seen. Although the sides are contrasting, there is no defined back and front. The first floor is a continuous ribbon which houses the standard apartments. Extending units down to the ground floor or stretching them up, creates a variety of dwellings. The result is a scale that mediates between the neighbouring small worker’s houses, the over-sized suburban flats and the moderate scale of the inner city. By shifting units vertically and horizontally the ribbon becomes porous, providing entrances and peak holes, inviting people into this new ‘shepherd’s garden’.


design year: 2006 I size: 150 apartments I location: Tilburg I client: Municipality Tilburg / Europan Nederland