Karin Annaert about Rosa Spier House

‘This building enables us to express once again the original idea of a living and working community’

“You see the original idea clearly expressed in the new building,” explains executive director Karin Annaert. “That is absolutely wonderful to see.”

Living, working, culture and care. Those are the four pillars of the Rosa Spier House in Laren. A living and working community in which artists and scholars continue to practice their passion. Harpist Rosa Spier dreamed of a place where she could live and work with like-minded spirits, and where people could inspire one another. That wish became a reality in 1969. Annaert: “The Rosa Spier House is a classic example of a small-scale form of housing, with art and learning as collective elements. A form of housing that is the subject of growing interest in the Netherlands.”


Unique housing concept

The need for a new building was great. Annaert: “The previous building had been declared unsuitable some years ago, because it was too small. As Rosa Spier House, you need an architect who understands that it’s a unique concept, and has been for 52 years. EGM understood that very well.” In November 2019 the Rosa Spier House moved to a new location not far away. “We’ve become twice as big, with 135 living units. The circular design embraces you when you stand in the park. The small-scale buildings form a single entity; all four pillars blend seamlessly with one another.”


Independent and connected

Annaert: “The design responds very well to the older target group and what they wanted: an open environment, wheelchair accessible, with freestanding apartments. The culture building transitions smoothly into the care building, but we can also separate them. Some of the 45 care apartments are specifically intended for people with dementia. There is space at their front door for one of their artworks, so that they recognize where they live. There are also couples where one partner lives intramurally and the other independently in an apartment. That’s the advantage of having everything on one site.”


EGM understood very well that the Rose Spier House is a unique concept


Facilities stimulate creativity

Everything in the Rosa Spier House exudes creativity. Annaert: “Scholars and artists do not retire. The various facilities stimulate them to organize activities such as lectures, exhibitions, book discussions, concerts and masterclasses. We have our own auditorium for concerts and performances, an exhibition space, a grand café, a music library and – across two floors – music spaces and art studios. All facilities are at hand to enable residents to continue working, independently or together. You see that original idea emerge again in this building, and that’s wonderful to witness.”


Culture building as central meeting point

The culture building is the heart of the Rosa Spier House. “It’s the central meeting point, the connection with the outside world. This public building contains a café, where everybody is welcome to attend a performance, enjoy a coffee or visit an exhibition. That function of spontaneous encounters has been really successful. Moreover, we now have good spaces for the hairdresser, the pedicure, the doctor, the dentist and the physiotherapist. In principle, residents hardly have to leave home for anything.”


Living in parklike surroundings

The unique interweaving of housing, care and art gives residents complete autonomy to live as they wish. Together, in green surroundings. Annaert: “All 92 apartments have a spacious outdoor area and overlook the courtyard garden or the surrounding nature. The park with the pond and big trees already existed and has been retained. That creates the impression that the building has been there for a long time. You always see something else flourishing or growing in the garden. Residents also enjoy the outdoors on the large terrace. In complete peace, because the building stands with its back to the road. That back – containing offices, storage and work spaces – also acts as a sound barrier. EGM designed that very smartly.”


Lifelong art

The Rosa Spier House now meets the needs of today. Annaert: “EGM has admirably succeeded in translating the multifunctional aim of the Rosa Spier House. Thanks to this building, we can provide a service that enables residents to make and share art for their entire lives.”


Maud van Gennip, writer and copywriter, interviewed Karin Annaert July 2021

Project: Rosa Spier House