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City centre · Assen, Nederland

A welcoming, climate resilient and inclusive city centre

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.

Assen, Nederland
In progress
2020 - ongoing
Project Area
16 ha
gemeente Assen
De Deur In Huis, Dusseldorp ISM

This coherent approach emerged from practice. After our redesign of Koopmansplein into a green and versatile area, it became clear that many of the design principles applied were also desired in the shopping streets immediately adjacent to the square. Therefore, the municipality of Assen asked us not only to make a design for the redevelopment of these streets, but also to record the principles, ideas, and concepts we developed and translate them into a set of guidelines for the entire city centre. With these guidelines, Assen can upgrade its city centre step by step over the next few years into a versatile, green, and inviting residential area for everyone to enjoy.

Creator of meaningful places

Integrally interwoven ambitions

In a changing retail landscape, it is becoming increasingly more important to offer a total experience that makes the inner city a destination in its entirety. This is also the case in Assen, where the focus has shifted to creating a denser city centre, with a more attractive layout, that acts as both a destination and a place for visitors to find accommodation. Together with the municipality, we developed three intertwined ambitions for this: attractive and hospitable; climate-robust and nature-inclusive; and accessible and inclusive.


Context and research

To arrive at a well-anchored, relevant, and useful guideline, we researched and mapped the context in which these ambitions take shape. We did so based on a diversity of topics, including; history, inner city strategy visions, traffic, and area profiles; climate adaptation, heat stress and water; position in the ecological structure; current accessibility for various target groups; and recurring temporary functions and usages such as festivals and markets.

Historic structures
Heat Island Effect
Ecological structures
Creator of meaningful places

Arranged to suit everyone’s needs

The design principles for profiles are clearly ordered according to the city’s structure: from squares and junctions to avenues, streets and alleys to green spaces, water, wadis to amenity strips and parking bays. The design components and materialisations were then ordered in a similar manner. This creates a clear, easy-to-use toolbox in which the principles are directly related to the ambitions and can be traced back to the context from which they arose.

Working together on quality

An attractive city centre is not only created by designing public spaces. That is why toolboxes have also been developed for façade improvements, façade gardens, advertisement displays and terraces, containing clear guidelines that help entrepreneurs and property owners make choices that contribute to this coherent image.

Creator of meaningful places

Ready for implementation

The first five shopping streets that will be implemented will reveal the design principles and their effect on the atmosphere of the city centre.  The streets have been designed with a coherent base design across the city centre, and attention to detail and specific green types that best suit the identity and use of each street within the city centre. Historical structures will be made experienceable once again and given new meaning. This creates a coherent identity for the entire city centre with nuances for individual places and states.


Kruisstraat, as the main shopping street, is designed with robust greenery yet also offers space for terraces and public seating areas. While the Marktstraat follows a similar approach, its lines, planting, and detailing emphasise its role in connecting the historic Brink and the Markt at the head of the canal. Weiersloop, Oudestraat and Oudemolenstraat are laid out as through bicycle routes, with a more restrained design that leaves room for flexible infill. Where possible, trees are added precisely at the ends of these streets and vertical greenery and façade gardens are applied.

Creator of meaningful places

New significance for historic structures

The Gedempte Singel has a special role within Assen’s urban fabric. This former defensive moat will be made visible once again and used to increase climate resilience. An interconnected series of rain gardens buffer the rainwater from paved surfaces and the roofs of adjacent properties. Attractive planting flanks the walking routes and provides a backdrop for the terraces present. An initial pilot rain garden was implemented together with Koopmansplein to test its operation and manageability.

Gedempte Singel - Assen

Een toekomstbestendig stadshart voor Assen

Discover our design for the Koopmansplein in Assen that brings greenery, water and vibrancy deep into the city centre.

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