High-density schemes that update building forms first explored in the 1970s are a recurrent theme of contemporary Dutch housing. Within the experimental Nieuw-Terbregge estate in the inner suburbs of Rotterdam, one of The Netherlands' most imaginative architects, Mecanoo, has come up with high-density dual-aspect housing terraces in which car parking has been tucked below an access deck between the terraces. Built at a density of 40 dwellings/ha, with 1.5 parking spaces for each dwelling, the arrangement allows children to play safely on the upper deck, segregated from the cars below.

Mecanoo's original contemporary touch is that, instead of being a solid concrete lid, the access deck is composed of timber boarding, in which large gaps have been left allowing trees to grow through and daylight and ventilation to reach the cars below. As Nieuw-Terbregge lies next to the River Rotte at a depth of 6 m below sea level, water features prominently in the landscaping, with much of the housing sitting as islands surrounded by canals.

Nieuw-Terbregge is The Netherlands' contribution to the European Union's programme of experimental low-energy housing known as Thermie RE-Start. The Dutch target is to reduce energy consumption by 25-40% through a combination of eight small gas-fired combined heat-and-power plants, heat pumps connected to the ground water, solar collectors and high levels of insulation.

The entire scheme of 860 dwellings is developed by a single developer on municipally owned land. The scheme mixes upmarket housing built for sale with cheaper housing for rent or sale at a discount. Mecanoo's three-storey terraced houses, with an internal area of 120 m2, sell for about £153 000 apiece.