sturdy ensemble with intriguing interaction between past and present

GROUP A is responsible for the design of the Gortercomplex in Leiden. A powerful ensemble of monumental conversion and new build. The characterful Gorter building – a TNO research building dating back to the 1950s – has been transformed into 54 apartments. In addition, the Gortercomplex has been expanded with two residential towers with 159 apartments and an underground parking garage. Old and new are harmonizing and contrasting in an exciting game of past and present.

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A strong connection
The monumental Gorter building, designed by H.F. Mertens, is located in the Bio Science Park, in the middle of the Boerhave district in Leiden. The former TNO building looks sober and efficient, fitting in with its function – Institute for Preventive Health Care. With respect for the monumental character, 54 apartments have been realized in the former laboratory spaces, in 7 different types, varying from 46 sqm to 136 sqm. The new housing layout is based on the structure of the Gorter building. What is special is that some apartments have extra high ceilings and some of the apartments are situated along the facade, with for example 7 windows in a row in the living room! Not everything in and around the Gorter building is sober. The entrance is immediately apparent. Two statues stand on either side of the doors: ‘Hope’ and ‘Care’. With the round windows of the staircase this gives variation in the brick facade with the characteristic windows with steel frames. Thanks to the integration of the special qualities of the existing in the new architecture, the Gorter building once again sparkles in strong synergy with the new building.

Light and transparent
The lower 4 storeys of the 40-metre-high new residential towers are provided with brickwork in ‘vecht’ size, visually connecting them to the brick facade of the Gorter building. The residential towers consist of 13 floors and have a light and transparent character. By using different shades of grey for the panels, a dynamic façade image is created that complements the brick substructure. The residential towers offer space for 159 apartments, varying from 57 sqm to 118 sqm.

Relationship with the green
At the same time, as important for the quality of this complex is the strong relationship between the buildings and the campus-like environment, and between inside and outside. Through spacious outdoor spaces and large glass surfaces, nature becomes part of the direct living experience. The seemingly loose layout of the building volumes is precisely attuned to the already mature greenery all around, creating a subtle ensemble with harmonizing qualities.





Transformation listed building and new build


Wassenaarseweg 54, Leiden, NL


23.122 sqm total, excl parking garage | Gorter building: 5,766 sqm | Tower 1: 9,989 sqm | Tower 2: 7,367 sqm



Start design

January 2016

Start construction



April 2020


Arjen Veldt Photography
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The makers of this project

Maarten van Bremen
Maarten van Bremen

Architect | Partner

Perry Klootwijk
Perry Klootwijk

Architect | Projectleader

Matteo Bettoni
Pietro Giromini
Io Alexandropoulou
Nour Fellah
Janneke van der Velden
Richard Bax
Tianyi Xue
External stakeholders