''Dierenthuis''– meaning animals at home- is an organization that looks after terminally ill cats and dogs. The organization was forced to leave their premises in the south of the Netherlands, and Almere gave them the opportunity to to build a new shelter in the city. Of the 4400m² plot that was appointed for the project, only 690m² can be built.
The building program includes, in addition to the cat and dog shelters, a common meeting room and an information point for visitors. Office and living spaces for the managers of the complex and their trainees are also needed.
Since the animals suffer from illnesses, the visitors are not allowed to come into direct contact with all of them. It is important to provide spaces for a controlled interaction, and to ensure that the visitors are able to observe the animals from a distance. To make the remaining part of their lives as care-free as possible, it was necessary that the animals are able to roam freely, both inside and outside, at their own will. The Almere municipality expressed their preference for an architectural design that would blend into the surrounding landscape.
The design is a loop-shaped roof surface that rises, as seen from the intersection. It boasts three zones: living quarters for the management and the trainees, living quarters for the animals, and a space for visitors to interact with them. The entrance provides access to the first two, while the roof terrace allows the observation of the animals from a safe distance. The animal living quarters provide access to an open outdoor area that divides cats from dogs with fencing. The loop in the circulation provides access to all the spaces.