A former railway track, reinterpreted as a green connector for pedestrians and cyclists between the city centre and the green estates of Rhijnauwen and Amelisweerd: Oosterspoorbaan park is a surprising enrichment for the local residents in Utrecht. Once a monolithic barrier that separated different neighbourhoods, the Oosterspoorbaan has now opened to residents, with various attractive places to stay and facilities along its entire length.

 
 
 

In Bobigny, the landscape has been given a role as a narrator and curator of the history of the place. The complex layered history is depicted in a layered way similarly to what one would find in a memorial park and thus takes the visitor by the hand into the past.

Between 1943 and summer of 1944, around 22.500 men, women and children were deported from the Bobigny station, making this site one of the most important sites of the deportation of French Jews during the second world war. After the war, the site was turned into a steel scrap yard and stayed in use until the mid 2000’s. Paradoxically, the industrial activity is what has protected the site for decades and allowed it to survive major urban transformations and evolutions. The Bobigny station is one of the only deportation places in France that was preserved after the second world war.

 
 

In the seaside resort of Cadzand-Bad, we integrated the need for coastal reinforcement, which is a part of the National programme to turn the coast into a super-storm proof zone, by upgrading the public space. In doing so, we realised a high-quality and attractive new élan for the entire village, with a diversity of atmospheres in which ecology and coastal defences are an integral aspect of the design. The renewed Cadzand-Bad is safe and attractive year-round for residents and tourists alike and is recognisably linked to its surroundings. The success of the interventions forms a solid, widely supported basis for the ground rules of future developments.

 
 

The spirit of a vanished historic riverbed is being brought back into the heart of the Brussels Heyvaert district. The neighbourhood has a strong need for high-quality public space to strengthen its social cohesion. As a new green vein, the Kleine Zennepark will connect a series of urban rooms. Here, a unique integral but phased approach has been chosen.

 
 
 

Binnenrotte is Rotterdam’s largest open space. Mainly used as a market space, it consisted of a stretch of hardscape, 800 metres long. With the transformation of Laurenskwartier into a mixed-use zone, new consideration was required to integrate the large Binnenrotte area into the adjacent quarter. We created a design that took the opportunities that the site provided and enriched them to give Binnenrotte the much-required quality of stay throughout the day.

 
 
 

Future-proof design of Assen city centre

Commissioned by the municipality of Assen, we developed a plan for the future layout of the public space for the inner city. In a guiding document, the municipality’s ambitions for an attractive, inclusive, and climate-proof city centre were developed into attractive, elaborate, and smart design principles. For the first five shopping streets, these principles have been translated into concrete design plans that will be implemented in the upcoming years.

 
 
 

Mechelen, with its rich history, is a city where the echoes of the past resonate throughout the historic inner city. However, by the late 20th century, the area’s charm and identity had been obscured by a series of pragmatic decisions that eroded its character and liveability. An initiative to reintroduce water into the city centre led to a design competition. We were selected as the winner, still a fledgling Dutch design firm at the time. This marked the beginning of a lengthy sequence of collaborations where Mechelen’s aspirations and our expertise complemented each other seamlessly.

 
 
 

Marina Park in Cork embodies many facets of the city. It fulfils the long-standing promise of creating a regional park to the east of the city. Like many former industrial cities, Cork has significant decommissioned industrial areas along the river, adjacent to its city centre. Today, these areas present an opportunity for residential development and the redevelopment of public spaces. Marina Park is a key component in Cork’s ambition to develop its docklands industrial area into a lively and integrated neighbourhood for the city.

 
 
 

As a key part of a larger plan to improve the most vulnerable areas of the Dutch coastal defence, Katwijk’s coast proved to be a particular challenge: how to add safety, without sacrificing the key qualities of the town, but rather add more quality instead? We researched the relationship between the town and the beach, and used the reinforcement to create a dune landscape that feels completely natural while, in reality, it houses a hidden parking garage behind a dyke.

 
 
 

Begbroke Innovation District is an ambitious project to develop the area around Oxford University’s existing Begbroke Science Park into a world-leading innovation district, situated within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. Commissioned by Oxford University Development and in collaboration with a team led by Hawkins\Brown, we designed the masterplan for a new innovation district.

Landscape will become a unifying element of the development, combining an urban vibrancy and innovative spirit with the qualities of rural living as the base for a spontaneous communal life with programming for all ages, local food production, outdoor living, health and well-being. The outline masterplan sets the direction for the development of a unique sustainable “21st century Oxfordshire village” that is not only well-embedded into its context, but also provides an exceptional environment to live, work, learn and play.

 
 

Landscape-led masterplan

Various aspects of the site, including geology, topography, ecology, history, and social needs, were meticulously examined in relation to each other. From that, three pillars formed the foundation of the plan: a green framework, ecological setting; a resilient, natural water system; and an inclusive public realm that intentionally fosters community-making.

 
 
 
Creator of meaningful places

Fine-grained green framework

The interconnected green framework that permeates the masterplan not only serves an ecological purpose, but also acts as a versatile spatial connector across all scales. A wide and diverse perimeter of park spaces offers recreational opportunities and respite for both wildlife and residents. This vast green space incorporates the existing Rowel Brook and the Oxford Canal as well as a new local nature reserve and nature conservation area to strengthen its role in the regional nature recovery network, while also providing a community farm that combines local food production with community building. The green presence extends into the development through three green arteries, providing essential social and active open spaces combined with natural water management, biodiversity connectivity and uninterrupted active mobility routes for each neighbourhood. Within the neighbourhoods, the landscape identity is carried through in lush boulevards and living streets, aiding intuitive way-finding and placemaking and encouraging year-round outdoor enjoyment and social interaction.

 
 

Sustainable natural drainage system

The masterplan integrates a natural drainage system at all levels; source, pathway and receptor. The green arteries are based on existing topography and natural drainage patterns to allow a series of rain gardens and swales to become the main drainage spines of the development. Feeding into this system, a finer grain of sustainable drainage features within roads, parks and play areas focusses on the collection, retention, infiltration, purification and reuse of stormwater close to its source. This establishes an integrated, climate-adaptive water system that can respond to extreme weather conditions. Even during extreme rainfall, there is no surplus water flow to the downstream surrounding brooks.

 
 
Open space
50%
Increase in biodiversity
20%
New parks
75 ha
Sustainable Drainage Systems
8 km

Public realm as a third place

The social structure is closely intertwined with the green framework. Public realm plays an important role for community building and is where ideas are exchanged, and relationships are built.

 
 

To facilitate the mix of different land uses and existing and new communities, inviting and inclusive public spaces are integrated at different scales. The Farmstead is envisioned to become the lively heart of the district with (cultural) amenities sprawling from the existing Jacobean Farmhouse whilst the Central Park could offer multifunctional space for gatherings, sports and events in a green setting. In addition to a diverse range of programmed spaces, the public realm is designed to provide ample opportunity for appropriation, initiative, and cooperation: social life will not be orchestrated but rather permitted to evolve and thrive organically.

 
 

The car as a guest

Throughout the development, active travel is prioritised and car movement is limited in order to create better streets. Living streets with green space, trees and swales are designed to encourage meeting and playing and discourage all but essential vehicular use. Consolidated parking facilities and multi-modal hubs are strategically placed to capture motorised traffic early on, creating appealing car-light living environments.

 

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